EXTRACURRICULARS

Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zach Hy­man on hit­ting the ice and the books

The Kids Post - - Contents - by Ron Johnson

Learn­ing life skills from old school sports to cut­ting edge com­put­ing

It’s been a big off-sea­son for pri­vate school grad Zach Hy­man, not just be­cause his beloved hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, signed home­town star John Tavares, and is now favoured to win the Stan­ley Cup, but also be­cause the bud­ding young au­thor’s third book, The Ma­gi­cian’s Se­cret, hit the shelves this past spring. The book is a rol­lick­ing ad­ven­ture yarn filled with his­tory that il­lus­trates the power of the imag­i­na­tion. In­spired by his own grand­fa­ther, The Ma­gi­cian’s Se­cret is Hy­man’s first non-sports book fol­low­ing

The Bam­bino and Me, a base­ball story, and Hockey Hero. Post City spoke with Hy­man about his love of books and how his cre­ative side helps bal­ance the in­tense world of pro­fes­sional sports

When Zach Hy­man was grow­ing up in the For­est Hill neigh­bour­hood of Toronto, he was the old­est of five sib­lings. Be­ing a sto­ry­teller and lover of books (and read­ing aloud) was pretty handy for keep­ing the younger ones in line and help­ing out his par­ents. Now, as one of the young stars of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hy­man con­tin­ues to be a role model for young peo­ple both through his play on the ice and as a pub­lished au­thor of three books for kids.

“I’m the old­est of five boys, so kind of be­ing a sto­ry­teller was in my na­ture,” says Hy­man.

“I would help around the house by mak­ing sto­ries up. And I didn’t re­ally think any­thing of it, un­til I won a short story com­pe­ti­tion in Grade 7, and af­ter that my dad en­cour­aged me, and I liked the cre­ative as­pect and from there just kind of went into it.”

Hy­man con­tin­ued his schol­arly ef­forts at Com­mu­nity He­brew Academy of Toronto fol­lowed by the Univer­sity of Michi­gan where he played var­sity hockey be­fore be­ing signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015.

Hy­man joined the team along­side big name rook­ies Aus­ton Matthews and Wil­liam Ny­lan­der amidst a team tran­si­tion from peren­nial also-ran to rock solid con­tender.

Cre­ative writ­ing con­tin­ues to pro­vide Hy­man with an out­let that coun­ter­bal­ances the in­tense pres­sure he faces dur­ing the NHL sea­son. And it’s some­thing he plans on con­tin­u­ing long af­ter he’s laced up his last skate.

“Ev­ery ath­lete, no mat­ter what sport, should have some­thing they love to do out­side that sport be­cause there is a lot of pres­sure and a lot that goes on that peo­ple don’t see,” he ex­plains.

“You don’t want to be a oned­i­men­sional per­son. Writ­ing for me is an es­cape and a way to do that and some­thing that I love.”

In each of Hy­man’s three pub­lished chil­dren’s books — The

Bam­bino and Me (2014), Hockey Hero (2015) and The Ma­gi­cian’s Se­cret (2018) — there is a strong mes­sage of self-be­lief, the power of imag­i­na­tion and the im­por­tance of hard work.

These are val­ues that Hy­man learned from his own par­ents and grand­par­ents that he is keen to pass on to the younger gen­er­a­tion whether through his on-ice work, his char­ity ef­forts with or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Right To Play or through his writ­ing.

“As a role model for kids, I like to hit them from dif­fer­ent an­gles,” says Hy­man.

Al­though noth­ing is “set in stone,” ru­mour has it that Hy­man’s next book might in­volve the sport of bas­ket­ball. Un­til then, he has a Stan­ley Cup to win.

“It’s a long way away, so we are not fo­cused on those things,” he says. “It was a good off-sea­son, and we are just start­ing to ramp up a bit. We are fo­cused on day one, and we will take it from there. It’s just ex­cit­ing to get started.”

Cre­ative mus­cle Zach Hy­man won a short story con­test in Grade 7, and just kept writ­ing.

Zach Hy­man signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2015

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