GRAND FORKS, N.D. - On most mornings, junior hockey player Brent Davidson has three options before heading to class. He can go to the Ralph Engelstad Arena to work on his game, he can visit elementary school classrooms or he can sleep in.

Davidson never sleeps in.

Like most college students, Davidson's schedule varies from day to day. He usually wakes up between 8 and 9 a.m., attends class, hockey practice, studies in the evening and goes to bed after midnight.

"I have to find free time during my day when I can help people," said Davidson, a native of Morden, Manitoba. "I take it into perspective. Balancing is about being a professional and I want to be a professional."

Becoming a professional for Davidson has meant a history of volunteerism while balancing school and hockey.

Davidson has been a long-time supporter of multiple sclerosis (MS) walks. His commitment to the MS walks stems from his mother's diagnosis with the disease at the age of 24. She was taken in for treatment after falling ill and suffering a stroke, and was then diagnosed with MS. Today, his mother is taking things day-by-day, but occasionally struggles with the disease.

"It always scared me that the lady two doors down that had MS was in a wheelchair and I thought she [mother] was going to end up like that," he said. "I give so much credit to my mom and dad for taking me everywhere I had to go when I was little."

When Davidson arrived at UND, he met the Lotysz family through the hockey program. Greg Lotysz, a former Sioux offensive lineman who later played for the New York Jets, suggested that Davidson volunteer at Century Elementary School. Davidson visits the Lotysz children and their classmates in their classrooms, reads books and participates in class activities.

When asked about the children's reactions Davidson said, "I like to believe that they [children] are happy and excited, and I hope they are more attentive and want to learn while I am there. I always participate in the activities. I think that makes them want to be able to spell a word properly to beat me at the spelling game."

Despite his mood some mornings, Davidson knows that he has to put a smile on his face. "When I go into the classroom, I put a smile on those kids' faces and when I see the kids on a bad day, I leave with a smile on mine," he said.

Balancing school, volunteerism and hockey is a challenge, but Davidson is always up for it. He likes a challenge so much that he might be one of a few people in North Dakota who enjoys digging cars out of the snow. He says that if he had a more suitable car, he would drive around during snow storms to help people.

In the spring, Davidson hopes to expand his volunteerism by helping with the Special Olympics.

Davidson plans to graduate with a degree in Entrepreneurship. He says that he will wait to see what happens in the future with his hockey career, but would love to continue playing.

Regardless of what may happen in the future, Davidson will most certainly leave an impact on the Grand Forks community long after long after his senior stick salute.

 

~Go Sioux~