Having been an official, mostly for ice hockey, I continue to wonder what life’s like after the game for some that have taken the role of that of an enforcer.
As many know I have been a hockey official for over 60 years and yes that show’s my age and have seen far too many situations that can affect players of all levels of the game and not just at the pro level!!
I understand that hockey is and can be aggressive and physical at times, with tempers flaring and that seems to be the nature of the sport, but it goes far beyond this!!
I also wonder what it’s like to be the spouse of someone that has assumed this role wondering how they would react at home if one of their young kids happened to spill a drink or drop a dish?
The pressure put on pro players goes beyond the game and can have an effect on other individuals as well, which in my case could also affect the officials – but we’ll never really know.
I came across an article the other day that was about Jake Newton who is currently playing pro hockey in Europe.
I reached out to him explaining that we focus on Amateur sport that involved today’s youth and to my surprise he replied almost immediately.
The following is that I hope can and will be the first of many articles submitted to me by Jake, to whom I appreciate his input.
This is the first of a two part article from Jake with the second scheduled for Saturday, January 18th.
Enjoy the read!!!
Jake Newton is a 6’3” defenceman from San Jacinto, California who currently plays professional hockey in Europe. During the 2011-12 season, Newton played 31 games for the Lake Erie Monsters (now Cleveland Monsters).
Normally, this is where I would throw in stats and fun facts about his time with the Monsters and the teams he’s been with since playing in Cleveland.
However, the teams don’t matter nearly as much as the story of why his hockey career didn’t go as initially planned.
In a guest post last year on Nicole Sorce’s blog, Newton explained just what he had gone through in the earlier stages of his life.
“So, all of the events I don’t remember exactly. I do specifically remember that my cousin made me do things to him that no five-year-old should ever have to experience.” – Jake Newton in his blog post “I Chose Recovery”
Newton is much more than a hockey player. He is a son, brother, father, mental health advocate, and a sexual abuse survivor.
According to the National Sexual Abuse Resource Center, one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old and only 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to authorities.
Let that stat marinate for a moment. That means among all victims of child sexual abuse, 88% are not talking about what has happened to them.
If they are not talking about it, then they likely are not doing anything about it. In turn, the lack of conversation is probably stunting mental growth in children and adults.
For Newton, this unreported act of sexual abuse sent him down a path of acting out, drinking, and doing drugs at a young age. This ultimately affected his hockey career.
The lucky ones have a moment of clarity right before or when they hit rock bottom. When they realize a change needs to be made.
For Newton this moment came while playing for the Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League. It was during his stint there he cheated on his now ex-wife.
“To see the effect that had on her woke me up a little. It made me look at myself and the fact that I was able to cause another person so much pain.”
He was now faced with two different paths he could take in life.
“I had to choose between continuing my self destruction and the destruction of people very close to me. Or the path of recovery and getting at the root of the cause for the decisions I had made in my life up to that point.”
Newton chose the path towards recovery.
During the summer of 2012, Newton and his now ex-wife moved in with her parents and began therapy.
Newton and his ex had been to a therapist the season before while playing for the Syracuse Crunch.
As good as the time spent with that therapist was it wasn’t what Newton needed.
Mostly because he was not in a mental place where he could tear off his mask and kick down the wall which was preventing him from fighting those inner demons.
This time the therapy was more aggressive and intensive. They really dug to get at the root of his problems.
In doing so, he unearthed how mentally low he had become over time.
“A lot of crying happened that summer and I view it as the hardest summer of my life. The stuff I went through as a child was decoy rooted in my mind and I never thought about it, nor did I even remember it. Until therapy started.”
Ultimately, it was a bad decision which helped him realize the stressor behind his reckless past. Had Newton not cheated – causing him to make a conscientious change for the better – he may never have dealt with his traumatic childhood.
It’s likely the history of sexual abuse would have stayed buried until the most inopportune time- or would have remained buried forever.
The discovery of his past led Newton to contemplate something which is lacking not only in the realm of sports but also the world.
The discussion and openness of one’s mental health on a daily basis. Often times mental health is shoved into a closet.
It has joined politics, religions, and money as one of the things you don’t dare talk about at the dinner table.
Newton has begun to make it his mission in life to shed light upon all the aspects in life which makes us human. This includes pain and suffering as well as happiness.
Newton has been doing this in a variety of different ways over the past few years.
This is part two of the article submitted by Jake Newton, Pro hockey player who offers words of wisdom.