For Corey Chorneyko, the captain of the Spruce Grove Saints, it was a second chance that he wasn’t going to miss out on.
Having skipped writing his college entrance exams as an 18-year-old member of the Saints, he wasn’t going to make the same mistake as a 20-year-old. So, after having been away from school for two years, Chorneyko returned to Spruce Grove Composite High School on his own volition to make up for time lost.
Chorneyko explained that in his second full season with the Saints he had a rough go when a serious kidney injury sidelined him for an extended period of time. During that span he said he lost sight of his goal, a scholarship, but this year he realized he had some ground to make up. So he returned to school after the lengthy absence, not to graduate but rather to study for his college entrance exams, the SATs.
“I kind of dug myself a hole there but in the end I hope everything works out, that it’s not too late,” he commented. “This year I got motivated and really want to take the next step in my education and hockey career.”
The decision was motivated by that injury which in turn “made me not take hockey for granted. I actually noticed how much I missed it when I was out. Just seeing the success rate (with scholarships) with our team, with the organization, just made me want to keep that going as well.”
While he entered the picture late for many college teams scouting talent in the AJHL, Chorneyko said even if he doesn’t get a scholarship offer he won’t be deterred, explaining he’d pick a school on his own and try out for their team as a walk-on.
“Absolutely. With the injury problems I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, whether it was to go to school or work. This year, I really had an eye-opener and wanted to further my education. That’s a big part of it. Either way I want to further my education and obviously I’ve worked hard to get an education in high school and I want to keep that going, give myself an opportunity in life.”
The 20-year-old said he has had discussions with at least one U.S. school’s scouting department/head coach but hasn’t heard back about any commitments. So, he’s keeping an open mind about where he’ll head after this year.
“I’m not going to be picky at all,” he said, adding, “I’m more worried about the team (Saints) right now and whatever happens, happens. If something falls into place I’ll obviously be very honoured and thankful for that.”
One advantage the defenceman has is that he can reach out to former teammates now on college teams about maybe landing a roster spot but that does have a limit, he pointed out.
“I think it’s more what the coaches want. They come out and watch so obviously if they haven’t talked to me they’re not interested in my playing style, or my marks. I’ve sent out hockey resumés to multiple schools and I’ve heard back from a couple. But it’s great to see former teammates move on and they are trying to help me out.”
As for sitting and waiting, Chorneyko said it’s tough but he’s learning a valuable life lesson from being patient. After all, just because you’re a good hockey player it doesn’t mean the world is yours for the taking.
“There’s more to life than just hockey, obviously. I’m focusing on working toward something and since things don’t always come to you in life you have to work towards something. I think in the end if something does happen with a hockey scholarship, I’ll feel that much better about it,” because he had both the courage and the determination to go back to school on his own as a 20-year-old and take care of unfinished business.