Leaving is always the hardest part
Zachary Bennett taking next step in education, hockey
On the eve of starting high school, Zachary Bennett was packing a suitcase rather than a book bag.
Surrounded by pictures of Toronto Maple Leafs and dressed in the familiar workout gear of the Tri Pen bantam AAA Ice, the 15-year-old Bay Roberts youth was making sure everything was in the right place before he starts his first year of high school at the prestigious Bishop’s College School, located on the outskirts of Sherbrooke, Que.
Last week, Zachary started his high school career at the boarding school. He will concentrate on his studies and skate with the hockey team.
With his leaving, Zachary becomes the latest young hockey star from this province taking his talents to the mainland.
To some, it may seem like a daunting step forward.
He’s moving to a new province, a new school and meeting new people, many of whom may treat English as a second language.
However, Zachary is ready to go. He points to his ease in a crowd and with meeting new people as one of the reasons Bishop’s may just be the place for him.
The courtship by Bishop’s started two years ago, and really started to pick up midway through last season. After weighing offers from the school as well as another boarding school in Quebec, Stanstead College, Zachary and his family made their decision earlier this summer. “It’s going to be hard saying goodbye to everyone,” said Zachary.
With another year under his belt, Zachary felt he was primed to make the leap. He isn’t intimidated about playing with upperclassmen when the time comes. In fact, he’s looking forward to it.
“I’ve been playing against the older players my entire life,” said Zachary. “I’m looking forward to seeing where I stand.”
Zachary is a talented young athlete on the ice. A defenceman by trade, Zachary is equally as adept at setting up his teammates at one end of the rink as he is at punishing opponents with his body. However, hockey was not his main priority when it came to selecting a possible landing spot for the youngster. There are plenty of schools that offer a great hockey program, but lack a strong academic focus. That was what attracted them to Bishop’s and Stanstead College. “Education is really important,” said his father Nelson, who was also Zachary’s coach for the AAA Ice. “The first priority is education and then hockey. Having the name Bishop’s College behind him can open a lot of doors in the future.”
Bishop’s has produced stockbrokers, politicians, lawyers, film producers, brewery magnates and Sir H. Montagu Allan, the namesake of the Allan Cup.
“It’s a school first,” added Lisa.
A family decision
The decision for Zachary to leave was not taken lightly. The Bennetts weighed the pros and cons of the move, what it could do for their son’s education as well as his hockey career.
Family is a big part of Bennett’s life. During his games last season, it was not unusual to see a large number of relatives congregating in one of the rink’s corners.
The screensaver on the Bennett family’s computer floats through various pictures – all family-oriented — when it is not in use. “We made this decision like we make all decisions, as a family,” said mother Lisa.
“It is a move that affects all of us.”
Relatively close to home
A comforting thought for the Bennetts is the relative close proximity of Bishop’s to Newfoundland. By airplane, Zachary is an hour-and-a-half trip from St. John’s International Airport. For comparison, he is not the six-plus hours it would take to get to Wilcox, Sask., the home of Athol Murray College of Notre Dame. “If Zack calls me on a Thursday, I can be there by Friday afternoon,” said Nelson. “For me, personally, I needed to have that in my back pocket. To know that I could go see him on the weekends.” Leaving home is never an easy thing to do, it doesn’t matter how old you are or where you are in life.
It can be hard on the person leaving and the people they’re leaving behind. Zachary and his family experienced all of this as he prepared to depart home soil.
Making it easier is their belief that Zachary is ready to take the next step in both his academic and athletic career. “It’s a great opportunity,” said Nelson. “We’re staying really positive,” added Lisa. “It’ll be hard but you’ve got to support your child.” As Zachary enters his first full week at the school, there is still one lingering question. “Who is going to hang up his clothes and his blazers?” his mother wondered out loud.
15-year-old Bay Roberts resident Zachary Bennett makes some last-minute packing decisions ahead of his trip to Sherbrooke, Que. Last week, Bennett departed to Bishop’s College School in Quebec for the next step in his high school career.