Shortly after Dakotah Woods signed to play with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he posted on Twitter, "unreal feeling making a dream become reality."
A bit later, Dakotah, born in Chapleau in 1998, whostarted his hockey career when he was four years old at the Moore Arena with figure skating lessons, added, "Proud to announce my commitment with Quebec Remparts. Thanks to family, friends and everyone that helped me getting there."
After his father Gordon Woods told me that his son had taken figure skating lessons, I just had to include a question to Dakotah about it in an interview in which we texted back and forth --- he texts much faster than I do.
Dakotah said that figure skating helped him out "a lot really. You know you learn all your edges and have to stay balanced or you fall. Strapping on a pair of skates at young age is tough. Figure skating taught me a lot."
Dakotah is the son of Gordie and Isabelle (Saunders) Woods. He is also a member of Brunswick House First Nation.
Before the family moved to North Bay in 2008, he played Initiation, Novice and Atom on Chapleau Minor Hockey Association teams. The Elite Hockey Prospects web site says that he played Bantam AAA with the Sudbury Wolves in 2012-13, then joined the Nickel City Sons Midget teams until he joined the Elliot Lake Wildcats of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League for the 2014-15 season.
Playing now with the Quebec Remparts, a major junior team,assures Dakotah a spot in the annals of Chapleau hockey history. I asked him how he felt about it.
His text: "Making Chapleau hockey history is great knowing that my name will always be there is just unreal. Good to know that the town I spent my childhood days knows what I have accomplished throughout the years."
I asked Dakotah how he felt when he signed with the Quebec Remparts: "Unbelievable feeling. All the hard work you put in growing up as a kid, whether it is working out all Summer, going to different camps and all the sacrifices you have to make. Making a dream become r eality -- hard work does really pay off in the end."
One of the camps that Dakotah attended was as a member of the Hit the Ice Program for two years.It is an annual Summer hockey program for aboriginal hockey players ages 16-19. Only 15 from across Canada are selected each year, and he was named team captain by the other players this past Summer
Dakotah also attended the Oshawa Generals camp and played in several exhibition games. In effect he has now played in games in the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Chris Dawson of Bay Today explained in an article that Dakotah was a free agent invite this summer to the Oshawa Generals Main Camp.
Mr Dawson quoted Dakotah: “Because I was overlooked (in drafts), I became a free agent which is the best thing for me because nobody owned my rights, I was able to go skate with a bunch of different teams and give myself a good chance at making that step into leagues like the OHL, QMJHL or WHL.” (Western Hockey League out in my part of the country)
After Dakotah signed with the Remparts, Carl Tardif of Le Soleil newspaper wrote that he had become a new member of the team not a tryout player. "We intend that he remain with us," he quotes head coach Philippe Boucher as saying.
"The Quebec team had an eye on this player since the beginning of the summer, but its rights belong to the Oshawa Generals (OHL)" but was released by them so he would have chance to play with a major junior team this season," according to Mr. Tardif.
Dakotah, 17, is six feet four inches tall and weighs 205 pounds. His National Hockey League draft year is 2016.
Summing up all that has happened with his hockey career, Dakotah paid tribute to all who have helped him especially his parents Gordie and Isabelle.
"It is a family thing. "I'd like to thank both my parents for pushing me and making me the person I am today. Also family and friends for being behind me throughout this journey, all the money they put in the game of hockey for me is just crazy, all the fees, new equipment, travelling all over ontario, all the time they have put in for me. I can't thank them enough for what they've done for me since I've started," Dakotah said in a text message.
I think Dakotah's father summed up the feelings of his mother Isabelle, his sister Cedar and younger brother Hunter, in a Facebook message as Dakotah came on the ice as a member of the Quebec Remparts: "What a feeling. So proud. Watched him come out of dressing room and seeing the smile on his face was priceless," Gordie wrote.
On a very personal basis, I am so very proud too. I have known Gordie for over 30 years, and even though I now live in British Columbia, we have remained friends, and over the past few years he has kept me posted on Dakotah's progress.
As Dakotah told me in our interview, "It's a family thing", and he is right. He is also right that we can make "dreams a reality".Dakotah and his family are proof positive of it.
My most sincere congratulations to all of you. Happy Birthday Gordie, and, to my good friend, Carol (Woods) Byce, Dakotah's grandmother, all the best and thanks for being my friend too. It was great to see Carol and Gordie when I was home in Chapleau.
This column was done entirely with the exception of a phone call, using texting, tweeting and facebooking with links to Internet sites for information. An historic moment in my lifetime of journalism LOL...My email is email@example.com