Two small town boys who made it to the NHL were inspiring students in Timmins today.
“We found a way to make it and I think it’s setting goals for yourself and realizing that it’s not going to come easy and there’s going to be challenges along the way, and just to keep pushing, keep working hard and whether it’s being a hockey player or a school student it’s different, but it’s the same,” said Jordan Nolan, a two-time Stanley Cup champion.
Brandon and Jordan Nolan were the keynote speakers for District School Board Ontario North East’s First Nation, Metis and Inuit Student Leadership Forum.
From Garden River First Nation, Brandon played six games for the Caroline Hurricanes before suffering a serious concussion that ended his career.
Part of the brothers’ message for local youth is that you don’t have to be a professional hockey player or well-known to make a difference.
“These guys are teenagers, but there’s still opportunities where they can give back and be leaders in their community. And it’s just about finding your avenue and your opportunity where you can jump in and lead your people,” said Brandon.
The key for everyone, he believes, is being a good person.
“It’s always about being a good person and working hard, I just feel like that’s the most important thing…I just feel like it provides so many more opportunities when you treat people right and you work hard and you do a good job at your work,” Brandon said.
For Brandon, that means treating everyone the same.
“Let’s just treat everyone with respect, live a good life and meet new people where you can and treat them kindly. And for us, and for me in my life, my family’s life, we’ve always just lived that way,” Brandon said.
It’s a way of life that’s been working for the Nolans.
Brandon noted they don’t necessarily do a lot of marketing, but word of mouth has opened up opportunities.
“And that word of mouth comes from the way we treat people and the way we do our day-to-day business,” Brandon said.
As a free agent in the NHL, Jordan is putting some of their advice for the youth to work right now.
He said he’s trying to stay positive and believe that he can still play in the league.
“If I’m sitting at home doubting myself and sitting on the couch and not working hard then it’s probably not going to work out for myself, but if I have a positive mind frame and still go to the gym and do all my normal things, the routines I’ve developed over the years, that come July 1 on free agency day good things will happen,” Jordan said.
With their dad, Ted, the brothers founded 3 Nolans in 2013 and do public speaking, run hockey camps for First Nation youth, and have an apparel line. Part of the proceeds from the company is for scholarships for First Nation women through the Ted Nolan Foundation.
“My father growing up in the house that he grew up in, he always felt like his mom was the backbone of their family, and it’s the backbone of lots of our communities,” Jordan said. “The stronger women we build in our communities, the more success that we’ll have. That’s been with him his whole life and he’s passed it down to us, so we’re just trying to keep that going.”