When did you "know" about T.J.? By that I mean that every parent and grandparent thinks their kid is going to be Wayne Gretzky when they're 4 or 5, and some even think it when they're 15 or 16, and the kid doesn't have a shot. There had to be a point in his youth when you said, "we've got something really special here."
What do you tell people when they say, "my kid has it," and they do. More importantly, for the 99.9% that don't have it, what do you tell them when they insist that their kid has it and he doesn't?
-Chris, St. Louis
His mother Tina and I knew T.J. had a special athletic gift at a young age, but we didn't focus on that. Our focal point was to raise all of our children in a manner to which they'd have respect, dignity, compassion and a burning desire to accomplish anything they set their dreams upon. It was through this process that T.J. (the eldest of my four children) became a very likeable young person through the vehicle of athletics and his academic journey. More importantly, he was a perfect role model for his younger siblings, always making sure they were safe and never wavered taking them around the neighborhood.
In terms of his athleticism, T.J. developed a burning passion to always be the best in whatever sport he chose. He played soccer, football, basketball, baseball, roller hockey, ice hockey, skateboarded and later in life, golf and tennis. It was through all these activities that he developed a keen sense to adapt to any circumstance (much like on the frozen ice).
My former college basketball teammates, Steve Allen and Doug Lowe, are visiting this weekend here in St. Louis. Steve reminded me today that back in 1996 (when T.J. was an 8-year old Mite hockey player), that I had told him he might have something special. T.J. was playing hockey for the Northwest Admirals/Seattle Junior Hockey Association at the time. He scored 204 points (142 goals and 62 assists) that season in 42 games. Seattle Jr. Hockey played over half their games against Canadian (Vancouver, BC) teams since the border was only 100 miles away. So looking back, I'd say that was probably the time when we realized he was a special hockey player.
His greatest fan was my late father, Richard Oshie, and he felt T.J. had "it" even younger. Grandpa Oshie played hockey for Warroad, MN, the same school T.J. and I moved back to in 2002, he as a three-sport player and I as a three-sport coach. I remember my discussions with my father always ending with, "make sure he remains a great young man. If he does that, he can do anything in the world."
Then, on July 30, 2005, the Oshie family was turned upside down. That was the day the St. Louis Blues drafted T.J. as their No. 1 draft choice.
So to conclude your question Chris, it was at that point when his mother and I felt he could have a shot. It was that day when T.J. wasn't even watching the draft; Tina in Stanwood, Washington listening via Internet; and I was pounding on my dinosaur computer waiting for it to refresh. That was the day we realized through incredible hard work, he could attain his dream of playing in the National Hockey League.
But to all the parents, make sure through your child's journey you let him/her enjoy the game they are playing. Let them enjoy the great victories and endure the lowest of defeats. Teach them that every child on that ice is a special young person. Teach them to love the game. Teach them humility. Teach them compassion. But the most important factor; teach them to have FUN.
Oshie Sports & Media
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