SAIT Trojans men’s hockey rookie Dearle juggles being a dad, going to school, and playing the game he loves
Weal (Souther Alberta Institute of Technology)
CALGARY (CUP) — Graham Dearle isn’t your average rookie.
A typical day for the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Trojans men’s hockey forward starts off early. He attends his classes throughout the morning before hitting the rink for practice in the afternoon. When he gets home, he plays with his one-year-old daughter. But once she’s in bed, it’s time to hit the books.
Being a student, an athlete, a husband and a father makes for a busy schedule, but this enthusiastic 30-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dearle, who grew up in Saskatchewan, previously played professional hockey for the CHL’s Oklahoma City Blazers. He looks back on those years as among his most memorable playing the game he loves.
“It was awesome,” he said. “There were a bunch of other guys from Saskatchewan down there playing on the team. We were all young. It was a lot of fun.”
After playing there for four years, Dearle moved back to Canada in search of a career.
With the current economic state providing fewer job opportunities, Dearle came back to school to pursue an education.
Dearle is currently in the first year of the petroleum engineering technology program. Luckily for him, the ACAC has different rules of eligibility than the CIS, and he could continue playing hockey while attending school.
If Dearle had gone back to university, his four years of pro hockey in the U.S. would’ve counted against his eligibility, meaning he could still go to school but couldn’t continue playing hockey at the CIS level.
“I am glad that we have a system in place that allows him to come back to school and continue to play,” Trojans head coach Ken Babey said. “We want guys to be able to come back and play, and get on with their lives at the same time.”
After being away from the game for a couple of years, Dearle had to get whipped into shape fast. It took a couple of games for him to find his legs, but he feels he’s in top shape right now and ready to contribute.
“I’m a team guy and I’ll do whatever the coach needs,” Dearle said. “I haven’t won anything in a long time, but we got a good thing going here and I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
Babey said Dearle is a good role model for the younger players on the team. His play provides energy, and his presence offers veteran leadership in the locker room.
“Here’s a guy at 30 who really doesn’t have to still [play hockey],” Babey said. “He’s still playing because he loves the game and wants to remain competitive.”