By Tiffany Beckedorf
Special to the Chronicle
For Narcisse Baptiste, hockey isn’t a pastime, it’s not even a career – it’s a lifestyle. He has been on the ice as long as he can remember, and the 22 year old has been part of a team since kindergarten.
Through years of hard work, dedication and ambition, the Oliver local has achieved a lifelong dream: on March 25th Baptiste signed a contract to play in Sweden for the Västra Gästriklands Hockeyklubb, and will begin training overseas in August.
Growing up, the young man was always a fan of goalies, playing in the net himself for eight years and winning Goalie of the Year four times before becoming a forward. These days he is playing forward, mostly in the centre position but sometimes on the wing. Three years ago, Baptiste moved to Ontario to live with a billet family and play for the South Muskoka Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club. It was while he was there that his coaches put him in contact with international teams.
When asked how he felt after making the deal with Sweden, Baptiste says, “Its kind of funny, because I had been telling my friends and family I had wanted to go to Sweden, and then when it actually happened it was kind of unreal. Now it’s actually happening and it’s real – it just feels great.”
He plans to arrive early in Sweden to have time to visit some former teammates. Travelling the world is on his bucket list, and he is excited to start checking countries off the list.
Over the years, hockey has taught Baptiste many things. Perseverance, discipline and working as part of a team are just some of the traits he will take with him on his future endeavours. He says there are no real negatives, aside from the toll it can take on your body, but it is clear this is a small price to pay for the unadulterated joy that playing hockey gives him.
This summer Narcisse will be working in Osoyoos to save for his travels, and staying in shape by shooting a lot of pucks in the backyard. Every time he misses the net, he does push-ups or sit-ups, and he also enjoys roller skating, running and jogging to stay in shape. When he is in training or playing, his diet consists of 3-4 eggs daily and high protein and carbohydrate dinners.
When asked if he had any advice for up and coming young players who hope to make it big, Narcisse said, “It will be hard at first and it will take a lot of work but at the end of the day, all the work will be worth it – if you get a chance just don’t give up and it will come through.”
Narcisse counts his mother Nancy, and his grandparents as his biggest supporters. He would like to thank everyone who has made it possible for him to achieve his goals, including past coaches, teammates, billet families, the community support of Oliver, the Osoyoos Indian Band and all of his family and friends.
There is no question, the future is bright for this aspiring athlete – a talented young man Oliver can be proud to call one of its own.