Stories You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Tiger Times

Stories You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Tiger Times

Stories You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Tiger Times

May 22, 2024

    Small Town, Big Dreams

    Jaccob Slavin’s Hockey Journey
    Photo credit: USA Today Sports Images

    In the world of professional sports, tales of small-town heroes rising to the pinnacle of their respective fields are as inspiring as they are rare. For Jaccob Slavin, defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes in the National Hockey League (NHL), his journey from the quiet town of Erie, Colorado, to the bright lights of professional hockey is as good an example of small town success as any.

    Born and raised in Erie, Slavin fondly recalls the simplicity of his upbringing in the beautiful landscapes of Colorado. “I would say that what I remember the most about Erie from the time I was born to about 2013 is that we lived on highway seven growing up, and there was absolutely nothing there,” he reflects. “Now, every time I come back, there just seems to be more and more stuff being built… it’s just crazy how much Erie has grown in that aspect.”

    Erie, once a quiet town, has experienced rapid development over the last few years, transforming into a bustling community of thirty thousand plus. Yet, amidst the changes, Slavin remains rooted in the memories of his childhood, where he and his siblings lived on the countryside, embracing the freedom that comes with rural living. “We were able to live out in the country when we were in Erie, and had a lot of room to play as kids,” he recalls with nostalgia. “We even had a little shooting area (with hockey pucks) outside when we were kids, so just being able to have those options living in the country was nice.”

    Despite the allure of small-town life, Slavin’s passion for hockey burned brightly from an early age. While he dabbled in various sports, including baseball, golf, and tennis, it was hockey that captured his heart. “I played a lot of other sports growing up. Hockey, baseball, golf, swim team, tennis, all those other sports,” he recounts. “But, I think one of the reasons why hockey emerged as my main sport was because I had four siblings, we all played hockey, and we all had a lot of fun with it.”

    For Slavin, hockey was more than just a game; it was a family affair. “I think we all knew hockey was the main sport from the very beginning,” he says. “It was the one that I truly enjoyed playing the most. The fast pace, the intensity, and obviously the team aspect made it a lot of fun.”

    While his love for hockey flourished, Slavin’s journey to the NHL was not without its challenges. As the only former student from Erie High School to make it to a major league sport, he faced doubts and uncertainties along the way, but obviously found his way. For college, Slavin committed to Colorado College, and was selected to first team all NCHC while leading his team in blocked shots. His unwavering belief propelled him forward. “I mean, it’s definitely a good feeling,” he acknowledges. “God’s given me a lot of amazing abilities to play the game of hockey at such a high level and to have the platform that I do, it’s really cool.”

    Reflecting on his time at Erie High, Slavin cherishes the memories of his brief foray into high school sports, particularly baseball. “The only sport I actually played for Erie High School would have been baseball my freshman year,” he recalls.  “With hockey being the way it was for me growing up, I played club hockey, so I never really played too many sports with Erie.”

    Slavin later explained how C-Team baseball tryouts gave him something more valuable than playing time. Despite not being able to play hockey with the high school, Slavin’s experience on the baseball team left an indelible mark, leading lasting friendships. “My time playing baseball there was a lot of fun,” he reminisces. “I made a lot of good friends there. One of my best friends to this day I met because of C team tryouts my freshman year, and we’re still really good friends to this day.”

    As Slavin continues to make waves in the NHL, he remains grounded in his roots, never forgetting the town that helped to shape him into the athlete and the person he is today. “I’ve got a son now and a daughter too,” he shares. “My daughter doesn’t seem to want to play hockey which is okay, but hopefully my son will want to play some hockey one day, and that will be really cool.”

    For Jaccob Slavin, the journey from Erie High School to NHL stardom is a testament to the power of perseverance, the importance of family, and the enduring legacy of small-town dreams. As he continues to inspire countless aspiring athletes with his remarkable achievements and gestures of generosity, his story serves as a reminder that greatness knows no bounds, and that with dedication and determination, anything is possible, even for a kid from Erie, Colorado.


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    About the Contributor
    Ian McGuire
    Ian McGuire, Sports Director
    SportIan McGuire is a sophomore at Erie. He is on the Varsity tennis team, and sings in CR5. He also has multiple AP and Honors classes.

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