Originally Published: November 2008
Dan Hamhuis - #2
Born: Dec. 13, 1982
Weight: 200 lbs.
Hometown: Smithers, British Columbia
Drafted: 12th overall by Nashville (2001)
Considering the environment that many kids grow up in these days, I was very fortunate to be raised by parents who taught me at a young age what it meant to have good values and morals.
Growing up, we went to church as a family every Sunday, and I went to a Christian school and had great friends there. By having those friends and living in the small town of Smithers, British Columbia, I wasn’t exposed to an overabundance of temptations or even peer pressures.
I started playing hockey when I was four years old and fell in love with it. Through the teams I played on, I made another set of friends, my hockey friends. Those friends were different than my Christian-school friends in the way they acted and carried themselves. To me, that was interesting. Even at a young age, I was able to see the difference between how the world acts and how Christians act in the world.
Still, to me, being a Christian simply meant going to church with the family on Sundays. It wasn’t something I resented, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ at that point. And when I moved away from home for junior hockey, I went through some real spiritual battles. I was part of a group of older teenage guys, and we all succumbed to a lot of the pressures and temptations of being on our own and away from our parents for the first time. For me, I knew what was right, but it was so easy to do what was wrong.
By God’s grace, I managed to make it through those years with Christ still being a part of my life, but not the most significant part. When I was 20 years old, I went through a deeper spiritual transition.
It happened in 2002—my first year of pro hockey—while I was with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. I began going to a team chapel led by our chaplain, Iggy Coffaro. He asked a lot of spiritually challenging questions and didn’t sugarcoat the Christian message. He taught us about being bold and stepping out in our faith. It was a real eye-opener for me and my faith in Christ, which developed into a deeper, personal relationship that year. It was difficult being away from my family and friends, but I knew God was there. I felt His presence during a time when it would have been easy to feel more alone than ever.
The move to the NHL has brought new daily challenges to my faith simply because of the typical professional-athlete lifestyle. I have been fortunate in my first couple of years to play with some older guys who are strong Christians. They are good role models for me in how they deal with the situations that come our way in pro hockey. I have certainly learned by watching their maturity.
The close-knit team environment also has given me the chance to organize our chapel program for the past couple of years. Our chaplain, Pike Williams, is great, and we make sure that chapel is available to all the guys. We let them know that we are available to talk about anything—not just about Christ and reading the Bible, but also about difficulties they might be facing. As Christians, we aren’t naïve. We realize that life, even as a professional athlete, isn’t always perfect. And it is easy to forget God when things are just rolling along. When things go wrong, however, it is comforting to know that He has been there with us the entire time.
My faith in God will forever be the purpose of and key to my entire life. It has been the blueprint for my marriage—which has been amazing; I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my wife—and is an integral part of my sport. I have been truly blessed, and I know that all I have comes from Him. And I have a responsibility to do something great with the gifts He has given me.
Photo Credit: hockeycanada.ca