Another LeBlanc catches a Hobey Baker, celebrates with a first pitchRecently, Brock LeBlanc joined a very exclusive group of athletes. He was awarded the prestigious Hobey Baker High School Character Award. The honor is bestowed upon a high school hockey player who exhibits the highest levels integrity and sportsmanship on and off the ice. It’s a rare honor and schools can nominate just one player per year from among their outstanding lineups. Since the North Shore Storm is comprised of athletes from two schools, Alex Wasko of Two Harbors also received the award this spring.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Recently, Brock LeBlanc joined a very exclusive group of athletes. He was awarded the prestigious Hobey Baker High School Character Award. The honor is bestowed upon a high school hockey player who exhibits the highest levels integrity and sportsmanship on and off the ice. It’s a rare honor and schools can nominate just one player per year from among their outstanding lineups. Since the North Shore Storm is comprised of athletes from two schools, Austyn Wasko of Two Harbors also received the award this spring.
Remarkably, Brock LeBlanc’s honor was just one of the Hobey Baker Awards received in his family this year. Cousin, Drew LeBlanc was selected as the recipient of the single Hobey Baker Award from among thousands of college hockey players in the nation. It was a case of lightening striking twice, but unlike the natural phenomenon, LeBlanc’s award is not a chance occurrence. It’s about who he is.
“The main thing with him is that he’s a leader. He puts the team before himself. He’s a we, before me guy,” said Storm coach Shawn Bartlette, who emphasized that the award is not just about athletic ability, but about the athlete’s positive influence on and off the ice.
“(Le Blanc) was a two year captain in baseball and hockey,” he said, “he was able to get his teammates to do the right thing and make the right choices.” LeBlanc, who credits his parents for “pushing me to be a good person,” put it this way:
“Leadership is a positive attitude off and on the ice, especially when things aren’t going the way you want them to. I tried to stay positive to help out the team.”
Le Blanc said he received the award at the end-of- season hockey banquet in March.
“I didn’t know until then,” he told the Lake County News-Chronicle,” I was surprised. I totally blanked out that there was a High School Hobey Baker Award. I was pretty honored that they’d nominate me for this big award.”
LeBlanc said he’s been playing hockey since he was able to stand up on skates and has learned some important lessons from his involvement in the sport.
“I’ve been on a lot of teams where teamwork was the only way to be successful. Independence doesn’t go very far; it takes a whole team to win a game,” he said, adding, “you may not like this person or that person, but when you get on the ice, you’d better play as a team.”
When LeBlanc received the award this spring, he had no idea that he would receive a second honor— the chance to throw out the first ball at a Minnesota Twins game. Drew had been slated to make the pitch, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from being there. Brock was happy to be asked to fill in. He took the pitcher’s mound just two weeks ago in the Twin Cities.
“It was very exciting,” he said, “I felt honored to be able to do that. It was really neat to be in front of thousands of people,” though the occasion wasn’t without a stressful moment or two.
“Your adrenaline is rushing. I knew if I looked around I would have thrown the ball in the dirt or something,” Le Blanc recalled, describing a fear that surely every pitcher has had and some have realized. His pitch, however, sailed across the plate as the crowd and his family looked on.
Last week LeBlanc graduated from William Kelley High School. He said he plans to attend Itasca Community College in the fall to study engineering. Itasca doesn’t have a hockey team, but LeBlanc said his hockey career isn’t over. He intends to play recreationally and pass his knowledge and experience on to another generation one day.
“There’s a lot of alumni-geared hockey in Silver Bay, I’ll do that and further down the road when I have children, I’ll coach them,” he said. In the meantime, LeBlanc had this advice to up and coming hockey players: “Go 110 percent all the time. I’m not the best hockey player that ever walked the face of the earth,” he said, “the only way I was able to be successful was to work hard. If you’re going to do it, give it your all.”