Nathan Poole does not like sitting still. Whether he is playing hockey, working out or focusing on schoolwork, you would be hard-pressed to find a moment when he is not striving to improve himself as a person and a hockey player.
Growing up in Oshawa, Ontario, Poole was near Toronto’s bright lights but was far enough away that he was not enthralled in the hustle and bustle of Canada’s largest metropolis.
From a young age, Poole’s winters have been spent in the crisp, cool air around outdoor ice. “We have a pond just near our house; it’s about a 2-minute walk away,” he said. “A lot of my friends live right beside each other, so it’s nice and easy to go out there.”
Poole and his friends play for hours in the cold, their skates slicing through the natural ice until well after sundown. “We have a goalie too, so that is pretty nice, basically practicing without actually going anywhere.”
This year, the outdoor ice has offered Poole even more, allowing him to continue training on ice, despite rinks being closed due to COVID-19. Out on the pond around four times each week, the young, relentless forward has been able to continue shooting and passing on real ice, rather than just in a garage. “It’s all about just doing what you can on there,” he said, recognizing that the pebbled pond is nowhere near the pristine conditions of an arena.
While being on the ice is a welcome bonus, this year has been very different for the 16-year-old. Since being selected 54th overall in last April’s Priority Selection by the Fronts, he adjusted to school and life as an OHL hockey player, despite not having a season to play in yet. As a Grade 11 student, he is still learning how to balance school and hockey while also making sure he is developing into the person he wants to be.
As part of his schooling, Poole works with a high-performance training program that is very different from what he has done in the past. “We are supposed to send in all our workouts, assignments, and then also journals about what it takes to be an athlete,” he said. Working out has always been a staple of his life, but he had not spent much time journaling and reflecting on his work until this year.
A lot is still very fresh to Poole, but he is already making the most out of it. “It is like a planner; it helps me plan things out like my workouts, my assignments, my school.” Reflecting and analyzing his habits have allowed him to adjust his schedule and incorporate more activities, pushing him to improve every day. “I was just running, but I got a stationary bike and some weights for Christmas, so I’ve been able to use those because we can’t really go to the gym right now.”
Even with new exercise equipment as a gift, Poole’s Holidays were very different than in the past. While there was no large family gathering, he still settled in front of the TV to watch the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, a tournament he has watched for years, but recently has been viewing differently “I’m watching the games a bit more over the last few years, not just as a fan, but trying to pick things off player’s games to add to my game and that has been cool to do.”
As he begins another semester of school, albeit online, Poole has already forged bonds with his teammates, many of whom he has never met. As one of the high school students on the team, he has gotten to know Shane Wright, Maddox Callens, Paul Ludwinski, among others, people he thinks he will be spending time with away from the rink when the season begins.
For now, Poole is doing whatever he can to get ready for a season, “We have to keep on working and working out,” he said. “ I think it’s great that I already have some relationships with these guys, and I cannot wait to get things started with them up in Kingston.”