The “Little Engine That Could” is often cited as an example of persistence and resiliency. Speak to 19-year-old Alex Sherret, and you’ll find that we have our own Little (6 ft.) Engine right in our neighbourhood.
This Leasider has “I Think I Can”-ed to great heights in the hockey world with a humble, yet determined, attitude and strong work ethic.
When he was 13, Sherret’s parents had never been able to coax him to skate. His mom and dad, Henny and Chris, note that when they used to put Sherret on the ice, he would lie, “like a wet noodle,” and refuse to move. But in Grade 7, Sherret watched hockey with friends and was immediately hooked. To his parents’ surprise (read: shock!), he expressed a desire to play the game. In Grade 8, Alex took skating lessons and in the following grade, his hockey journey began.
When someone begins playing hockey at such a late age, there’s an almost 100 per cent chance that person won’t progress far in the game. But “can’t” isn’t a word Sherret uses.
In Grade 9, Sherret earned a spot on the Leaside Select team and focused daily on improving his play. The next year, Sherret was moved to the Select B team and it was at this point that he met, and was coached by, Ian Mackenzie. Mackenzie, says Sherret, “made me believe in myself.” The young hockey player went from scoring six goals in his Grade 9 season to over 40 goals in the next. The following year, Sherret was offered a spot back with the Select A team but chose to stay with the B team to continue to work with Mackenzie.
“Alex,” says Mackenzie, “is one of the only people I have ever met who has no glass ceiling above him. With his work ethic, drive and focus, there is nothing he can’t accomplish or achieve. He just keeps his head down and makes his goals become realities.”
In Grade 12, Sherret made the leap to the GTHL and played his last year of high school hockey at the A level with the Toronto Shamrocks.
At this point, practically every hockey expert would have told Alex to find an intermural or “beer league” team to play with. Players who progress to university hockey usually have at least been playing AA if not AAA hockey for several years. But Sherret wasn’t done. With the goal of playing hockey at a U.S. university, the right-winger continued his drive to improve his game.
Alex contacted the head coaches at Liberty University at the end of Grade 12 and requested a tryout. Although he was told the university’s scouts had already lined up prospects for tryouts, Sherret used the evidence of how far he had progressed in such a short time to persuade the coaches to give him a chance.
For the next two months, he worked doggedly to do all he could to arrive at the tryouts in peak condition.
Alex recounts his father’s advice, “Have focused attention, not passive. Think of what your goal is to be and purposefully erase your thoughts of failure.”
With the help of Mackenzie and trainer Daryl Devonish, Sherret kept a steady focus on success and improvement. “Alex,” says Mackenzie, “has spent countless hours in his backyard shooting pucks (and breaking windows).” He also works many hours a week at the Amsterdam Brewery at Harbourfront to pay for his training.
His work has clearly paid off. Alex played his first year at Liberty University in Virginia on the Division 3 team and in his second year managed to make the D2 team. He is hoping to progress to the D1 team this, his third year.
Alex Sherret is a humble, polite, and kind young man. He speaks of the importance of team, of running his own business in the future, and of the importance of family. He’s shown that with determination and focus “I think I can” can become “I knew I could.”