Radio personality Showtime sits down with NHL defensive legend and Stanley Cup winner Andrew Ference to talk man-to-man about fatherhood, success, sports and recycling.
When he is on the ice playing for the NHL’s Boston Bruins, Andrew Ference is as rough as they come. A 17-year professional hockey veteran, Ferrence has made a name for himself as one of the league’s best defensemen. Off the ice, he is making a name for himself as a great husband, father, and environmental activist.
I had the chance to talk with the Stanley Cup winner about his journey through fatherhood, and initially I wasn’t quite sure what I would have in common with a hard-nosed NHL player. But after talking to Andrew Ference, I realized that regardless of occupation, race, religious background or any other factors in life, there is one thing hat holds true: Dads—REAL dads—will always do what they have to do to secure a positive future for their children.
SHOWTIME: You’ve achieved great success in your career in hockey. As someone who has followed his dreams, what advice do you give your children about never giving up?
ANDREW FERENCE: I think that the biggest thing is to always enjoy what you’re doing. The people I’ve been around who have had a lot of success, all have fun. They enjoy what they’re doing and they’re passionate about what they do. There’s a lot of hard work and a lot of hours that go into being good at anything, whether it’s hockey or a being a great stockbroker. If you’re gonna be great at what you do, it’s gonna be a lot of hard work that’s not necessarily a lot of fun, but you have to have that passion for the challenge and the joy at achieving your goals.
My younger one is too little to get into the deep stuff yet, but my older daughter tries every sport in the book. It’s really like the old sports cliché “it’s about having fun” because the only way you can be your best is if you’re feeling positive inside.
As far as constructive criticism, I tell her that if you’re gonna do something—a sport or a project or anything—you have to always work hard at it and try your best. Don’t just give up if something’s hard. You have to at least put in a full effort. If you don’t like it after that, then you don’t like it, but you have to work hard at it to know.
SHOWTIME: As a successful athlete who has been in the league for many years, how do you balance your work life and your family life? You have to be away from your girls and your wife for those long periods of time during the year. What’s the trick?
ANDREW: Athletics of any kind is an extremely selfish profession. There’s a lot of time competing, working out, and obviously playing and doing the road trips, all of which takes up a lot of hours. Even your meals and what you eat is focused on athletics. You can’t be going out for pizza too much. It really does take over your life.
Bigger picture, the city I live in can change in a heartbeat. You get traded and your kids have to change schools and that’s the way it is, your daddy plays hockey.
It is without a doubt a pretty selfish profession that dictates almost everything. But the biggest thing is to just realize that, and to be extremely grateful to your wife and kids and make sure they know how much you appreciate them sticking with you. Not just take it for granted like, “oh you should be happy, it’s such a great life.” You gotta be thankful for all the things they sacrifice and give up. It’s easy for me, I get to play the sport and I get to have all the positive aspects of playing hockey. They have to deal with all of the anxieties and the ups and downs. I think the biggest anxiety is the unknown, of getting traded or injured and that hangs over their heads all the time. As much as I can, I just try to show my appreciation to them.
SHOWTIME: As tough as you are on the ice, I’m betting you’re a softie around your two girls. Who is the enforcer in your home when it comes to Ava and Stella. Is it you or is it your wife?
ANDREW: Honestly, it’s shared, man. There’s pretty good consistency. Obviously my wife does more of the day-to-day stuff and she’s got the routine and the schedules all set up, so I hear it from her once in a while if I mess up the schedule. In the morning I’m usually the one getting in trouble because I get them off their normal day-to-day stuff. But when it comes to standards and discipline it’s definitely shared.
It would suck to always be the one that is always the bad guy. But that doesn’t happen with us, fortunately. We really do agree on discipline.
SHOWTIME: You’ve won the Stanley Cup and have been playing hockey for most of your life. Of everything that you’ve done and all you’ve learned, what do you think is the most important lesson that you want to teach your girls?
ANDREW: The thing that has helped me get to where I am the most is my commitment to always be the one that works the hardest. If you’re in a room full of people, you don’t want to be one of the best or hardest-working, you want to be the hardest-working.
Everyone’s born with a different set of skills, a certain height or certain size, but what you’re fully in control of is how much effort you put in. That’s something you can decide to control. So I always looked at it like, “I may not be the tallest in the room or the strongest, but I can always control how hard I work,” and I always set that as a goal for myself.
Even working out by myself, I always imagined some kid in Russia doing it a little bit harder. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, I don’t want that guy to get my job! It’s also about being able to push yourself to work hard when other people aren’t watching too, when it’s just you and you have to look yourself in the mirror.
It can apply to anything—school, music, and even marriage. You have to be willing to work extremely hard at everything you do in order to get positive results.
SHOWTIME: You’ve been actively involved in a campaign to help clean up the environment. Let’s talk about clean air and what you think it means to this generation, as well as your girls’ generation and the generations after that.
ANDREW: I’ve always viewed it as a thing of respect. I think of everything that is available today—whether it’s technology, the types of recycling we have available, and now some cities are even starting to compost—all the different energy-saving techniques are so easy. They are there for us, they exist. It’s not some future technology. We’re all educated enough to know what we have to do.
When I think of people not doing those things, I think they’re just disrespectful human beings. There’s no other reason not to do it. If you can see yourself in 50 years, you’d be like, you guys knew all this stuff existed, why didn’t you do anything about it? What’s your answer gonna be, “I didn’t feel like it?” or “I was busy?” The only real excuse is, “I didn’t really have any respect for you guys.”
I want to be able to look my kids in the eye and tell them that I did try to do everything I could. We’ve gotta respect future generations by getting off our asses and make a little effort and help the future out.