How does a kid from Holland Landing make it to the Big League? Here’s one story how, in this EG Shines Interview Exclusive. Darrin Madeley, now 45, grew up in Holland Landing and went on to play with the Ottawa Senators. Between 1992 and 95, Madeley played 37 career NHL games. The star athlete is now Director of Athletics at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois. As you read on, you’ll discover that it’s not only having made it to the NHL that makes Darrin Madeley a “hometown hero,” …it’s his great attitude.
What was it like growing up in Holland Landing? Can you share some experiences or memories of growing up in the region?
I loved growing up in Holland Landing and being able to play hockey and fast pitch for EG. Until 5th grade I lived 3 homes down from the school (HLPS) and then the new one was built. The old school had a great field to play on for soccer and baseball. I think that needs to be fixed so that the kids in the area now could do the same. It was safe, we could walk or ride anywhere. We used to play baseball behind the old fire hall and the roof was a homerun. We had a pond down the street or the firemen flooded the school yard to skate. It was a great place to grow up.
You started out as a young boy playing with the Bradford Blues, Newmarket Flyers, and the Richmond Hill Dynes. Did you always know that athletics was going to be your career path?
Not at all, I liked playing hockey and wanted to play as long as I could. From minor novice to minor midget I played for Sharon. I was very lucky to move on to a higher level. I always wanted to be a teacher, the strange thing is that I stopped playing and was ready to go to Ryerson. The goalie for Richmond Hill blew his knee out so they asked me to play one weekend. I got my scholarship to lake Superior that first game back against St. Mikes.
Any tips for local-area NHL-aspiring kids?
Biggest tip is to play and have fun. You never know what can happen. I was at the right place at the right time and the right person saw me. I was also very lucky to have the best coach in college hockey.
Do you believe that playing hockey benefits kids and how?
Playing hockey is great for anyone. Its builds character, learning how to win and lose, how to deal with adversity, how to be part of a team, and how to stay healthy. As long as you have the right parents guiding you like I did. They stayed out of the way, went to the games and watched but didn’t yell at our team or the officials or the other team. I have everything in my life today because I played the sport.
Do you remember your first game playing in the NHL? Can you tell us about it?
It was against Tampa and I couldn’t move my legs for the 1st minute. I was terrified. We ended up tying. My 1st save was against Brent Gretzky. After that I relaxed.
What was the most memorable moment playing with the Ottawa Senators?
We were an expansion team so it was tough because we struggled those years. My first home game was one of them because my father and wife were at the game. The others would be winning in the forum on hockey night in Canada with my brothers there.
What is your favourite book and movie and why?
Favorite book is the Iron Horse. I love baseball and Lou Gehrig is my favorite player to read about or watch clips of when you can find some. Favorite movie is Cinderella Man and 42. I like true stories about athletes.
What brings you the most happiness on the job as Director of Athletics Lake Forest Academy?
Being able to help students find a path they are interested in. it’s a really good school so the majority of these kids are focused and have a goal in mind.
And in life now?
Being married for 21 Years and having 2 successful and happy kids.
Do you feel that you will always carry Holland Landing in your heart?
Absolutely. Unfortunately a lot of people I grew up with I have lost contact with over the years but I still call Holland Landing my hometown.
Did the place you were born shape you in any special way?
I love the Landing but my parents shaped me. It took a while but they taught me about character. You help your neighbors, friends and people you don’t know. I have been very fortunate to win a NCAA division 1 championship, play in the NHL, IHL and Europe, coach the US National Team for 4 years and now be at a great school for 9 years. My NHL career wasn’t what I had hoped but a lot of that was my fault for not taking the physical conditioning serious enough and eventually just kept getting hurt but I have played with and for great people and don’t have any regrets. I come from a great small town and have accomplished a lot by 45.
I miss living in Holland Landing. It was and is a special place. I still go on the HLPS and EGMHA websites to see how things are back home.