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Thursday, February 24, 2011

SHANE and the PRINCEss

I had the honor and privelege to chat with Olivia Prince, younger sister of the Ontario Hockey League star Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67's. She went in depth about her own gymnastics career, growing up with Shane and what family life for a budding hockey player is like.

We sometimes take these kids , and let's face it these are still kids, for granted as fans, and forget about the family aspect.

Olivia Prince reading the fresh off the press article on Shane in the New York Hockey Journal by the best in the business Kirk Luedeke

You’re an accomplished and avid gymnast yourself. Can you tell us a little bit of the history there?

Yes, I have been a gymnast for almost 13 years now. I started when I was 3 years old and ever since then it has been a thing I love doing and it's basically my life. I'm in the highest level (10) and I train 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. Its a lot of hard work but when it comes to the big competitions, its totally worth it.
We often hear how other sports help a hockey player, such as lacrosse, soccer and now even figure skating. Have you ever said “Shane this will help you out with a certain part of your game” and then helped him with it?
Yes, definitely. As you probably know, gymnastics requires a lot of flexibility. Flexibility is a great feature to have in hockey. So when Shane and I are home, every now and then I like to stretch him and show him good stretches to improve his hockey. Sure its painful but I push him because I go through the same thing in my gymnastics practice. I try to get his splits as far down as possible and I like to stretch his shoulders and thigh muscles.
As an athlete yourself, was there ever a competitive spirit between you and Shane?
Me and Shane would rarely compete with each other over sports. He always did his thing and I always did my thing. We would definitely push each other and give each other a nice, confidence boost before a big game or competition. He gives me great pep talks to get me pumped. Also, when I get injured or when something just doesn't go my way, he calls me from Ottawa and gives me a nice, long talk about how I need to just keep pushing myself because every advanced athlete goes through difficulties. As for competing, I guess the only thing we ever competed with was our speed. I'm an extremely fast runner and me and him liked to race when we were a lot younger. I would beat him sometimes in the past but of course, he is much faster now.
Did you ever play hockey yourself?
No I never played hockey, however, I would go to Shane's practices when I was younger and put on some skates and equipment just to get a nice skate in. I was always actually a good skater but I wanted to stick with one sport only and focus on one sport. Gymnastics already stole my heart for that and I wasn't willing to give that up.
We often hear stories about a hockey player who use to shoot pucks at his little brother while on the backyard rink, the frozen pond, or in mom and dad’s basement, but never with the little sister.  Did you ever strap on the pads and let Shane have target practice?
Kind of. I definitely gave him someone to play hockey with when we were bored at home. I would always try to help Shane with anything possible. We would go out in the backyard rink and skate for hours. We would also have a net in the basement and I would shoot pucks with him. This was when we were very young so nothing was too serious. Also, knee hockey was a major thing I loved to play. Shane would bring home his whole Syracuse Stars team and we would all play knee hockey in our house. I had my lucky wooden knee hockey stick which was signed by a bunch of pro hockey players. I'm not sure if they let me win, but I won many times!
You are a tight knit family and close to Shane.  I believe Shane was 15 when he left home to play in Syracuse. How hard was that on the family, and especially to you?
I think it was hard because Shane and I are practically best friends. When you are used to seeing someone everyday and hanging out with them, it's going to be very hard when he just suddenly leaves. But we know it's the best thing for his future so we aren't going to stop him. I definitely miss him and the things we used to do, but when he comes home in the summer we catch up on all that. In the summer, we like to go to restaurants late at night and eat a lot and then we play wii bowling. We also play Peggle on Xbox and cook hot dogs out on grill late at night. It's a ritual every summer night.
Shane put in a lot of hard work to get to where he is today, and that should do him well for the future. Can you tell us about some of those experiences and what affect it had on you?
He would go to the gym almost everyday. We have a workout gym right in the town we live in called Atlas. He would go there a lot and sometimes I would jump in. He would push me to get stronger and show me great workouts to help me with gymnastics. We would work on flexibility for the both of us there too. When he didn't have a spotter, I would help him but I couldn't do much because he lifted so much weight! Then we would go to Cam's, our local pizza restaurant, and eat a big pepperoni pizza with buffalo wings. Those are the nights I love, we still do those things in the summer. 

When it came time to make the difficult decision to head north and join the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, I’m sure it wasn’t a decision he made on his own and there was plenty of talk among the family. Can you take us through that and the difficulties that came with it?
There actually wasn't much talk at all. Me and my mom were out to eat at T.G.I. Friday's at our local mall when she got a call from my dad. It was a short conversation about Shane, and my mom sounded really excited and happy. She hung up and said Shane made it to the OHL for the Kitchener Rangers! I had no clue what that meant at the time but when my mom told me it was Major Junior, I immediately started texting all my friends to share the great news. When Shane tried out for the Kitchener Rangers, he knew he wanted to play in the OHL. So when we found out he made the team, we didn't discuss it much other than what needed to be packed for his journey. I'm very proud of him and I guess the only difficulty was the leaving part. Shane and I are very close and we did everything together, so when he left it was sad. To be honest, I let a couple tears go a few times when I was alone because it's just not the same at home anymore. But, we text a lot and we even skype sometimes just to catch up on things. He is living his dream and that's why he has been training his whole life.
You’re an avid hockey fan yourself and the distance to Ottawa to get to Shane’s games doesn’t allow that all the time. But you were there for his first game back following his injury. Can you tell us how you first learned of the injury and how you felt and then what it felt like to be there for his return.
Haha, it's kind of funny actually. I was in my room checking my twitter while my parents were down in the basement, watching the game on the computer. I searched Shane on twitter to see what people were saying about him, and all this head injury stuff came up! I sprinted downstairs and yelled "WHAT HAPPENED!?!?!" My parents just shook their head and said "we don't know." I instantly texted Shane and got a reply immediately saying it was a shoulder injury. I was very relieved it wasn't a head injury so I went back to my computer and replied to all those rumors just trying to clear it up. But you know, any injury sucks and I just tried to encourage my brother just like when he encourages me. As for the return it was great, not only to see Shane play again, but to be back in Ottawa! I love Ottawa because there are so many hockey fans up there. Canada is very big on hockey and it's definitely not like that down in NY. I love going to see Shane play and I get super excited every time I go there to watch. On my first game back, we crossed the border and the border agent looked at our passports and asked a few questions. He asked why we were coming up and my dad replied with "well, our son plays for the Ottawa 67's in the OHL and we are going up to one of his games." The guy looked at the passport for a couple seconds, then up at us and said "SHANE PRINCE?!". We were shocked he even knew who my brother was. Good to be back in Ottawa! 
 I know Shane would never answer this question, so we’ll ask you. And please be totally selfish. You are in Minnesota for the draft. You are sitting next to Shane waiting for the draft to begin and his name to be called. Personally, I am pretty confident it will be in the first round so the wait won’t be a long one. What team do you want to say this: With our first pick, we are happy to select, from the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League, Shane Prince.
I would love to hear him get picked by the Buffalo Sabres or the New York Rangers. In the NHL, I would love to watch Shane play games as often as I do for Ottawa or even more! As you know, we live in NY so I personally would want somewhere close especially like Buffalo which is only about 45 minutes from my house. But, anywhere within driving distance would be a bonus so I guess the Leafs, Sens, Devils, Bruins or Montreal would be awesome places to watch him play plus we can SHOP!! In all seriousness, if any team were to select him in the first round it wouldn't matter much to me which team it was just to watch him get called up there and put his NHL jersey on.
Hockey players in general try and keep the draft in the back of their minds and not let it affect their game.  Is it something that doesn’t get brought up with him so as to not put any more pressure on him?
No, we bring it up a lot. Shane is very focused with the 67's right now and being successful for the playoffs, but he will always keep the draft in his mind and the family always brings it up. He is good with pressure and I think the pressure pushes him to do even better. He gets very excited thinking of the draft and I know we all do!
Can we see you as an agent in the future with Shane as your number one client? In all seriousness though, what are your own future plans going forward?
I'm not sure if I'm the right person to be an agent for hockey but I could teach a few of these guys a thing or two about balance and getting stronger, haha.  I think my future plans will be to keep going with my gymnastics and to compete in college while I   keep up with my schoolwork. I have always wanted to do something else too, maybe in the entertainment or advertising field. I take photography class, I have always loved taking pictures with my buddies, creating fun music video stuff and utilizing computer effects. I've done singing in the past and my Dad has suggested getting involved in acting and theatre stuff at least just for fun. But entertainment is a very hard business to earn a living at so I'm  keeping more realistic options in mind such as a doctor, or physical therapist. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what my future holds beyond gymnastics and education, that's my focus.
You said there was a story you wanted to share with us. Can you do that ?
Me and Shane love going places together, especially the mall. But you know, my parents don't want to take us to the mall as often as we want to. It was the day before Shane took his driver's test for his license. "Liv! Come in my room! We are having an important meeting!" said Shane. So I went to his room and the lights were dim and he said "We are having a praying session." I was really confused and I just burst out laughing because he was sitting down on his floor in criss-cross-applesauce position and he expected me to sit next to him, hold his hand, and pray with him that he passed his test tomorrow. Well I joined him and we prayed for about 10 minutes. The prayers worked because the next day he passed! So it was the first day he got his license and we were dying to go out in his new Jeep Wrangler to the mall. We took the roof off and we thought we were so cool driving around with our hair blowing in the wind and our nice shades on. We decided we would drive to one of the better malls that was a bit further from our house. As we were driving, Shane was being very careful because it was his first time driving without a parent. So we are jamming to loud music and singing and then we turn around the corner, all of the sudden we hear police car sirens. We thought "NO WAY THEY ARE AFTER US!" Well we thought wrong...they were. Shane was shaking and so was I! We see the police officer coming, and we are praying we don't get a ticket. We didn't even know why we were being pulled over! So, as we were sitting, I turn around to get a look at the police officer. He looked really familiar. Turns out, it was my Uncle! "Did I scare you guys?!" my Uncle yelled while laughing. We were so shocked. Apparently my dad (being a police officer himself) called my Uncle while my Uncle was at work, and told him where we were heading. My Uncle found us and decided to pull us over for a little prank. We were in disbelief but so relieved. It's a time we will never forget.
I'd like to thank Olivia for taking the time and being so personable and open in doing this with us and for wanting to share these photograph's with us. I have a new found respect not only for the players going through the draft, but for the families of those players. I wish only the best for Olivia, Shane and Mr. and Mrs Prince for the future.
On a personal note, when i get asked about a hockey player and to put my opinions out there, i try to be non biased and leave the "fanboy" mentality out of it. But i will be the first to admit, I am as huge a Shane Prince "fanboy" as you can find.
Prince has a bright future ahead of him, not only because of his great hockey talent, but because of the love and support he has from his family.
Shane's agent Scott Norton has coined the phrase "Shane Fresh Prince of Ottawa. And he is just that. He has stolen the hearts of many 67's hockey fans. I guaranteed Norton via twitter that Shane would definitely be a first round pick and that he would win the OHL scoring title. Unfortunately, 2 minor injuries may have prevented the latter.
Later on Olivia and I discussed how similarly ranked Shane is by NHL Central Scouting to where Jeff Skinner was last year. Now, I am not for one moment suggesting that Shane will be a 6, 7 or 8th overall pick, but these eyes tell me he will be a first round pick.


1 comment:

  1. Great read and a very unique angle. Olivia appears to be well on her way to a very successful future just like her big bro. She is also a very attractive young lady. Great article!