De Smet’s Thorpe refined leadership through hockey

Michael Thomas
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Nick Thorpe's leadership skills on skates also apply elsewhere in his life as well.

Thorpe, a team captain of the De Smet Jesuit High School hockey team and his school class president, takes both roles seriously. Hockey, he said, "has been a big part of my leadership skills and the team-building aspects of my life."

Thorpe has helped lead the team to a 12-3-3 record after a 5-1 win against Chaminade Jan. 8. All three of the team's losses came against St. Louis University High School, which has lost only once this season, by a 2-1 score vs. St. John Vianney.

The captain is leading the team in goals and points so far. He led the Spartans last season with 18 goals and 18 assists, as De Smet compiled a 14-8-1 mark.

Thorpe had two assists vs. Chaminade. "It was a big game," Thorpe said. "The team's coming together toward playoff time. All the systems the coaches are implementing, we're trying to nail down now and making sure we're playing our best hockey."

Before the Jesuit Cup, an annual game against St. Louis University High School Jan. 5, players attended Mass, had their uniforms blessed and received the invocation of St. Sebastian, patron of athletes. A dinner associated with the game showed players "how much people care about the program, how much effort goes into the money we raise for the club, all the support we have for us," Thorpe said. "I told the guys before the game that 'This might be another game for us, but it means a lot more than that. A lot of people are here to watch you guys, and a lot of people care for you. So give it your all. You're playing for them and the name on the front of the jersey.'"

Thorpe came to De Smet from a public school and knew only a few students who were hockey teammates. He introduced himself to others, which he found easy at the school. "Everybody is so welcoming," he said. "There's something for everybody here, many things you can do."

He sought the role of class president to challenge himself and give back to the school. "The way I look at it is you're only here four years and you want to get the most out of it. If you sit back and let those years go by, you'll miss something great so why not get involved?"

A member of Mary Mother of the Church Parish in south St. Louis County, Thorpe takes a moment before games to pray and reflect on the responsibilities he has as a captain and how blessed he is to be athletic enough to play a physical sport.

Thorpe began playing hockey around age 3. At that time, he'd overheat with activities outdoors, so the sport on ice was ideal for him at the time. He refined his love and knowledge of the game by watching Blues games with his dad. Another big influence on the now-De Smet senior was watching superstar Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thorpe's athleticism, particularly his speed, translated to his hockey skills. "Going fast on the ice just made me love the game and work hard to get better," he said. "Wanting to get better is one of the things I like to strive for."

Playing club hockey, with out-of-town tournaments, always provided fun moments with his teammates. Though he isn't on a club team now, he still knows some players on other high school teams and enjoys competing against them. "There were a few kids on Chaminade last night that I played with back in seventh and eighth grade. It's a battle, you haven't seen them in a few years, but you see how you've both grown as players and people."

His future is not quite set, but it could include playing club hockey at a university. 

>> De Smet standout excels

Trent Frederic, who led the De Smet Jesuit Spartans to their last Mid-States championship game appearance in 2014, scored four times in a bronze medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., Jan. 5 as the U.S. team defeated the Czech Republic, 9-3.

The 19-year-old University of Wisconsin sophomore forward, who earned Big Ten freshman of the year honors in 2016-17, was a first-round selection (29th overall) of the Boston Bruins in the 2016 NHL entry draft. He played for De Smet his freshman and sophomore high school seasons before moving on to the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 teams the next two years prior to making his mark with the Wisconsin Badgers in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

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