“I have a hockey name. I think they call me Clarkey. Do you have a hockey
name?” Jamie Clarke asks with the genuine pride of a Canadian hockey fan.
Clarkey, as he’s come to be known around Canada’s National Junior Team, is
more than the average fan – he is an adventurer who, among many other
achievements, has climbed the highest peaks on each of the seven
But that simply forms the basis of his credentials. What captivates you in
the time you get to spend with Clarke is his energy, his zest for life, his
uncanny storytelling ability and the way he draws parallels between his
world of extreme adventuring and the hockey world.
Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams with Hockey Canada,
knew the lessons – and the oomph with which Clarke delivers them – would be
critical for the challenges of Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek
Selection Camp, particularly after players and staff went into a 14-day
But Clarke didn’t just want to speak to this year’s crop of World Juniors
hopefuls. He wanted to bring value that would sustain – not just through
camp, quarantine and the tournament, but along their hockey journeys.
“When you pull all these global factors, pandemic across the world,
inequity across our planet, and think here are these men, stuck in their
rooms, their dream hanging in the balance, what would that be like? And how
can I help?”
And so Clarke began to draw the parallels between extreme adventuring, life
and death situations, and selection camp in an unprecedented year amidst a
“The thing that sprung to my mind was those moments when I’ve been stuck on
the side of a mountain in a tent, unable to go up or down,” he says. “And
filled with so much unknown…” What was the distinguishing factor for
Clarke? What does he see as the determinant factor of whether one succeeds
The mind game. Mental fortitude. The management of your state. He goes on
to explain that it’s not external factors or other people cheering you up
that make the difference in trying times.
“You need your coaches, parents, everyone … because we depend on each other
as a team,” he says. “But that’s what I wanted to wrap up in these stories
of adventure and give the fellas a sense of that. You’re going to go on an
emotional roller coaster – expect it. But it ultimately comes down to you.
You’re grateful for the pats on the back, you’re grateful for
encouragement, you’re grateful for Hockey Canada staff. But you have to
know it. And when you go through that, there’s no shortcut, there’s no book
to read, there’s no affirmation you put on a sticky note on your mirror
that tells you that you’re battle tested. You have to go through it.”
He attributes it to a shift in perspective, a slight alteration rather than
getting scared or intimidated.
Mental fortitude – plus his signature phrase, ‘Be urgent with your tactics,
patient with the outcome’ – couldn’t possibly hold more relevance to
journey Team Canada has taken thus far. In fact, it’s something head coach
André Tourigny has integrated into his practices and film sessions after
listening to Clarke speak for the first time.
“We need to focus on the task right now, when you go into this kind of
competition or intensity… focusing on what you can control is a big key,”
says Tourginy. “Part of our philosophy is to focus on the present; all the
noise around could be the expectation, distraction. We cannot focus on that
because we can’t have control over that.”
He notes how valuable it is for players to have heard those lessons from a
world-class perspective. “With [Clarke’s] presentation, it hit home for the
players and they know it’s relevant. He’s been in high-pressure moments and
tough situations and knows how to react.”
That’s something defenceman Kaedan Korczak, echoes, adding that he was
drawn to Clarke’s persistence at facing challenges he had previously failed
“I think that was good for us to hear, because we know we’re going to have
to go through adversity at some point in the tournament,” Korczak says,
“and just hearing the way Jamie and his teammates handled things was
Thomas Harley, another Team Canada blueliner, says that Clarke’s empathic
speaking style left him with lessons about teamwork and trust: “He really
stressed how important these two things were to success and how without
them we would fail.”
Clarke will continue along the journey of the 2021 World Juniors with the
team, slotted to speak to the group via Zoom again this week.
If Miley Cyrus insisted it’s all about the climb, Clarke assures us that
moving mountains as large as the 2021 World Juniors amidst a global
pandemic begins with a strong state of mind.