Luc. Or should I say, “Counselor.”
Yep. The kid’s an attorney. That same kid who spent three years playing junior hockey after high school instead of starting college right away. Most people who believe in the value of a college education — and I do — would view that as a mistake.
But I also believe in pursuing your passions and dreams. In pursuing his, Luc set a course toward figuring out what was “next,” because when he graduated from Valencia High School, he didn’t know yet.
When he finished his final year of junior hockey eligibility at age 20, the next step was college. Most who play “junior” hockey — sort of a semi-semi-pro level — either pursue pro hockey or play some level in college. That’s why a typical freshman college hockey player is closer to 20 than 18.
After juniors, Luc knew he was headed for college, not the pros, but wanted to continue playing competitively. He also wanted the “college experience.”
He found it all in Oklahoma. Several former teammates were playing for the Sooners, and his junior coach put in a good word for him with the OU coach. Now, just as his sister is a Washington State Cougar for life, Luc is a Sooner for life. (Boomer Sooner!)
Funny thing. When he started at OU, a few weeks shy of turning 21, the university said he was not subject to the requirement to live in the freshman dorms. He was “invited” to get an apartment off campus. After all. Having 21-year-old freshmen in dorms with 18-year-olds right out of high school? What could go wrong?
He roomed with a teammate from Colorado that first year, and in his final three years he roomed at a house with several teammates, including two who also grew up in Santa Clarita. It kind of became the “hockey house.” His college and junior teammates have become his friends for life. (He’s been to about a half-dozen weddings in the past 18 months …)
I’ve written before about the road trips and the “hockey experience.” We made so many memories through it all, starting when he was a 4-year-old mini-mite, through youth club hockey, traveling across the continent for tournaments, then following his junior and Oklahoma teams every step of the way.
Also along the way, he found his path. At Oklahoma, he didn’t have a specific career goal in mind when he started, but he took classes that interested him. He ended up double majoring in psychology and criminology, graduating with honors.
But, natch. Just as COVID disrupted his sister’s journey at WSU, it disrupted his senior year at OU. Thankfully, they got the hockey season completed before the shutdown. (He made all-league in his senior year, book-ending the all-freshman team honors he earned in his first year).
When it came time to graduate, he didn’t — at least not in the sense of walking across the stage at the football stadium. Because of COVID, there was no ceremony. I had been looking forward to that — not only because I wanted to see my first kid graduate college, but also because of what I thought was a cool tradition at OU:
When we took Luc on a campus tour before his freshman year, one stop was this tall clock tower, which sits atop four brick pedestals. The tour guide cautioned the incoming students NOT to walk under it. Bad luck. Legend has it that if you walk under it before you graduate, you WON’T graduate on time. Hence, students step around, not under, the clock tower.
On graduation day, they line up to walk under it for the first time. Since Luc’s ceremony got canceled, I never got to see my kid finally walk under that tower. It was a bigger deal to me than him. I was, childishly, disappointed. Whatever.
Later, Luc said he went back and visited campus. He walked under the tower. It was anticlimactic.
As he was finishing at OU, Luc began, again, pondering what’s next. He decided to pursue law school. He took the LSAT, scored well, and was accepted by multiple schools. A couple were in Southern California. I rooted for those because it would bring him closer to home.
But he went all “adulting” mode. He evaluated the offers and decided the best fit — academics, scholarships, opportunities — was in Dallas at Southern Methodist University (Pony Up!), a few hours south of OU.
Fast forward three years — which included a summer internship at a district attorney’s office in a rural Texas town, a clerkship for a federal judge, two internships with law firms, mock trials and law clinic — he graduated, again, with honors. This time, we got to see it happen. And yes, you’re damn right we’re proud.
He passed the Texas bar early, still in his final semester. By the time he graduated, he was working full-time for a firm where he’d interned in 2022. And, as I mentioned in Part 1, he and his sister (and Luc’s dog, Lily, and Brooke’s cat, Hefner) are moving into a new apartment in Dallas, midway between the law firm and the hospital where Brooke will work.
Now, again selfishly, even though my kids won’t be here, I can visit them both on ONE plane ticket.
Luc has come a long way, and it started the first time he begged his mom to let him play hockey when he was a wobbly-skating 4-year-old. (She wasn’t thrilled. At 4, he was one of the youngest ones putting on the pads and helmets.) I believe, without the path he started as a youth hockey player who developed a passion for the game, then pursued it in juniors, he wouldn’t have ended up at Oklahoma, he wouldn’t have ended up at SMU and he wouldn’t have ended up passing the Texas bar and landing a great job with a respected Texas firm.
Not to say any other path wouldn’t have worked out, but this one damn sure did. For those who wonder about the benefits of youth sports, there it is. And, bonus: When he started playing hockey, I hoped he’d still love the game enough to enjoy it as an adult, and he does, in the Dallas adult leagues.
To Luc: It’s been such a joy to watch you grow from that 4-year-old chasing his first goal on the ice to chasing new goals as an intelligent, savvy young man with a world of opportunity awaiting.
Congratulations … Counselor.
Tim Whyte is the editor of The Signal.