LCN grad and NHL player Steve Oleksy receives heartwarming welcome home
May 27, 2014
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Chesterfield Township native and 2004 Macomb L’Anse Creuse North graduate Steve Oleksy took a long, winding road to the National Hockey League.
Oleksy, a defenseman, went undrafted out of Lake Superior State University in 2009 and spent the next four years honing his craft with six minor league teams.
All that hard work, patience and perseverance paid off when Oleksy made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitols on March 5, 2013, in a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins. Oleksy recorded an assist in the win on a goal scored by Alex Ovechkin. Prior to that, Oleksy was signed to a three-year deal by the Capitols’ minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
The people back home have never forgotten Oleksy, and on May 13, he was honored during a ceremony at LCN where his No. 61 Capitols jersey was framed. The sweater will stay on display inside the Macomb Township school.
“You never think in your whole life that a day like this is ever going to happen,” said Oleksy, who was flanked by his parents, brother, grandmother and uncle during the ceremony.
“To come and walk in and see how many people came out, and to see all the people who have supported you through everything is an incredible feeling. A lot of people did a lot of work to make this day so special.”
Oleksy made sure to acknowledge those people, specifically his coaches and family members. He praised his family for being at every game through his junior, college and pro career. He said his parents, Sue and Andrew, didn’t miss a game until he signed with the Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League.
His parents made sure to be on hand for their son’s NHL debut. Steve said he just tried to keep it simple during his first NHL shift, which lasted 30 seconds. Embracing the moment was key, he said.
“I carried with me the attitude that if I played one game, I’d have the chance to live a dream and do something not a lot of people get the chance to do,” he said. “If I end up making a long career out of it, I’ll cherish every moment of it because it can be gone really quickly.”
“Being there for (Steve’s) first game was unbelievable,” said Sue Oleksy, who works in the L’Anse Creuse district. “I couldn’t believe he was playing in the NHL.”
LCN students, faculty and staff filled the LCN gym during the May 13 ceremony. A video was shown detailing Steve’s road to the NHL. He gave a speech with a theme of “dream big.” He told the LCN students in attendance that the most important decisions of their lives take place during their high school years.
Oleksy said that being at LCN, and being surrounded by so many positive role models and people who had his best interest at heart helped to shape his future.
“Dream big is kind of a motto that I carry with me,” said Oleksy, who, for the last two years, has come come back home following the end of the hockey season to help coach Jeff Dropps with the LCN baseball team. “There are going to be good situations and bad situations throughout life and sports. You have to use each and every individual situation as a driving force and as motivation. Everything can keep you motivated. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else is going to believe in you.”
Sue Oleksy couldn’t help but beam with pride listening to her son share words of wisdom with LCN students.
“The things he said about us and what he told the kids really went straight to my heart,” she said. “He’s worked very hard for everything he’s gotten. He’s got a great work ethic.”