My brother Justin Spurrell is waiting for the next step in his life. COVID-19 has forced a halt to the Ontario Hockey League just as he was prepared to start in his hockey career.
The 17-year-old hockey player was drafted by the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds in the 10th round this past summer.
Getting the call from Greyhounds General Manager Kyle Raftis was a great moment not only for Justin, but for our whole family.
Sitting across from my brother, we waited patiently for his name to show up on the draft board. It was extremely nerve racking.
Throughout the years, I watched my brother play every game — from house league when he was only four years old to the Brampton ’45s AAA Midgets — with heart, strength and determination. Although I never missed a single game of his, it always amazed me of how talented he is on the ice.
Justin looks up to some of his idols like Sidney Crosby, Blake Wheeler and Auston Matthews to try and copy the same work ethic they have and make it his own.
His biggest goal in life since he was a child was to make it to the highest level in hockey, which is the National Hockey League, and to play on the team he grew up watching.
“I would love nothing more than to get drafted into the NHL by the Maple Leafs,” Spurrell said. “It is what I always wanted to come out of my hockey career.”
And becoming a part of the Greyhounds could be a big step towards that.
This is the Greyhounds once led by current Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas. Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe is a Greyhound alumnus.
When I watched Justin’s reaction while getting a call from the Greyhounds’ Raftis, I felt both relief and joy. The trek to reaching his objective in life took a big step toward being accomplished.
It was extremely emotional for me and the rest of my family.
But he knew the COVID-19 pandemic would put that next step upwards on hold for the time being. Nevertheless, getting ready physically and mentally for the Greyhounds’ training camp is now his number one priority.
“Training every day and making sure I’m in good condition for the training camp, whenever it starts, is my main goal as of now,” he said.
Nine months after Justin was drafted to the OHL, it still sparks conversation. I’m proud of my brother and all he has accomplished at such a young age. He continues to take me by surprise, in part because he’s done so much while still having so much time to accomplish the rest of his goals.
With on-going support of my family, we believe he will do great things in the future, not only with his hockey career, but as a person. He especially feels the quiet guidance from his uncle, who recently passed away.
Justin knows Uncle Emilio is watching down on him and clearing a track on the ice for him.