Nineteen-year-old Arwin Atwal is one of the most valuable defenceman
It’s rare to meet a nineteen year-old who is certain about anything. Nineteen is the age of most first year university students who don’t know what they want to major in. Nineteen is the legal age you have to be to walk into a bar in BC. Nineteen is the last of the teen years, and one year closer to being considered an adult.
It’s also the age of Vancouver Giant’s defenceman Arvin Atwal who is able to stay levelheaded despite the pressures that come with the highly competitive world of hockey.
Atwal was drafted into the Western Hockey League (WHL) by the Prince Albert Raiders in 2010 during the Bantam draft at the age of 14.
“It was surprising and a good feeling,” Atwal says. “It opened my eyes that people could actually see me and notice me playing and think I was good enough to be drafted. From then on I realized how serious everything was.”
This is the moment everything changed for Atwal. This was the beginning for him. Since that day 5 years ago, he’s now become one of the most valuable defenceman on the Vancouver Giants.
He wasn’t with the Raiders for very long before he was traded to the Giants in 2011 where he scored his first WHL goal against the team that drafted him, the Prince Albert Raiders.
“Both my first goal and assist was against that team. It was just another game but obviously every time I play against the [Raiders] it’s a bigger game for me. I always take it more seriously. That [goal] felt special.”
Atwal has been skating since he was three. His parents enrolled him in a minor league at the age of 5 and the rest is history.
“By the time I was 10, I knew that [hockey] was all I had ever been doing and all I ever really wanted to do,” Atwal says.
He accredits his parents for being the people in his life who keep him grounded.
“My mom and dad help a lot, they are always talking to me and they know how serious I am. They tell me all you can do is try your best, train hard everyday and if it works out, it works out and if not you can be happy knowing you gave it your best. I’ll always have them supporting me even if it is through another career. I just train and play and I don’t give myself any excuses that I could have done more. Hopefully by the end of it, everything I put into it and my parents put into it, will work out.”
The way Atwal speaks, it feels as though he’s said these words before and this philosophy is his mantra: Try your best, that’s all you can do. It’s a simple idea but one that has evidently worked for the nineteen-year-old throughout his promising career.
It’s with this same attitude he plays the actual sport of hockey. Recently in a game against Kamloops in December he achieved a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, assist, and fight all in one) generating a lot of buzz for the player.
Atwal laughs when asked about the impressive feat, “things like that don’t happen everyday.”
He carries a sense of calmness along with his excitement, a combination that makes for an excellent defender on the ice. “I never used to play physical, no one ever expected that. I’m a pretty calm and relaxed guy there’s not that much aggression in me. I don’t expect going into a game that I will fight [but when] teammates get hit, I will step up if that happens because I know they would do the same for me.”
His duty as a defenceman is to protect the honour of his team and that is something Atwal takes very seriously. He takes hockey seriously, he’s committed himself to it and there’s no going back. There’s something admirable in this dedication. It makes being a nineteen-year old not as uncertain as the world often makes it out to be.
“Everyone has a chance, when you’re young some people develop early, all you can do is train and work hard and be honest to the game and it will be honest back to you.”