When I look back on Huron hockey the only thing that comes to mind is that it taught me to be a man. Huron hockey taught me to support my team, work hard and find the positives in the negative. It taught me to be 15 minutes early no matter what. It taught me how to tie a tie, tuck my shirt in and always wear a belt. It taught me that white socks are unacceptable. It taught me disappointment when I was cut year one, but to not give up and keep trying. It taught me how to grieve, and what losing a brother is like.
You taught me that if I’m going to lead, I need to do everything that I expect from my employees and do it with them. You made me ready for the real world and gave me something to look back on and be proud of. I can’t thank you enough for all you done for us, we are eternally in your debt.
The number one memory I carry daily is when we found out about Lapper. I was 5 minutes late to the workout in Chelsea. I remember walking in the front door and a rink employee instructed me to go to the locker room, I remember it being on the left side of the hallway. Every step closer I felt something was wrong, but not because I was late, but I felt something. When I walked in the locker room, my teammates where hunched over sobbing. I remember knowing someone was gone, didn’t know who but I know we weren’t complete. You broke the news to me and I immediately was grabbed by Wasik and Ferris. I never felt true loss before and I carry that feeling with me everywhere I go. It was in that moment that I knew we weren’t just a team, we were a family, and as dysfunctional as we may have been individually we truly loved and cared for one another. That bond wasn’t given, it was earned, and we earned it together.
Michael Lapprich was a key leadership figure during my first three years on the team. His kindness and support to an underclassman such as myself went such a long way. He would give us rides home after practice and stop and get Taco Bell for everyone. A simple gesture but in the context of upperclassmen to underclassmen in the high school age group, it goes a long way. On those rides, I would vent a bit about frustrations with this or that and he would always be the voice cheering you on to keep moving forward. It is safe to say that without Mike Lapprich taking me under his wing through those first few years, I would have quit a long time ago. I would have not had the opportunity to learn what would be key life skills my senior year that I still carry to this day and hope to instill in my children as they grow up.
The changing of the guard – new lessons.
Fast forward to the summer of 2000. It caught me by surprise a little bit as I know it did some of the other seniors at the time that we would be doing summer workouts with our new coach, Mr. John Bacon. Now, I was already familiar with the name since you had coached Jackson and he and my parents loved you.
I have a couple stories/take homes. First is the bus ride home from Gabriel Richard Riverview. Our 3rd game of the season. We were 3-0 on that bus ride home. Year prior we were 0-23-3. Winless to undefeated. Albiet for about 3 or 4 days until our next game; but that ride home was a great feeling. We were down a man I think, and we still held on at the end. Richard was pushing hard, pulled their goalie. I think someone at some point layed out to block a shot in the last minute or 2. Great feeling to get that win. Almost like the true buy in point for me. Think I have shared this with you before.
Next is a Lapper story. He really meant a lot to me at that time in my life, and still does. He was just a really good dude, and better friend than most people will ever have. Better to me than I probably deserved tbh. Frog in my throat writing this thinking about him. I have a few Lapper stories. Mostly just moral support stuff. But to the point Lapper didn’t litter. One day on a ride to the rink with him, I was going to throw some garbage out of the car window and he stopped me (the reason why we were going to the rink that day is another reason Lapprich is a great dude). I don’t remember the specifics of what he said, but the take home for me was essentially “good people don’t litter”. That’s why to this day I don’t litter to honor that/him. Pick garbage up from the ground when I see it a lot of the time. Every time I think of him when I do it.