Olympians are extraordinary individuals who not only dedicate their lives and excel in their sports but are often exemplary in their personal lives.
Their lives are structured, scheduled, and disciplined. It has to be that way for them to achieve the goals they have set.
You normally don’t get to really glimpse what makes them tick, and rarely get to see what makes them really smile and laugh. That is why I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent two full hours chatting, laughing, and talking with Adam Kingsmill on a rare Saturday off for him.
Adam came home to the Smithers area for a few days to see his family and celebrate with them his recent selection to Canada’s National Para Hockey Team for the 2021-2022 season, which includes heading to Beijing, China for the Paralympics in less than six months.
Adam is a warm, thoughtful, polite young man with a ready smile and a fire in his eyes when he speaks of hockey, his accomplishments, and the goals he has yet to achieve.
Adam was candid and honest about all it has taken to get to the level of competition he currently enjoys. He is also remarkably thoughtful, aware, and genuine about those who helped him along this journey.
He has given his success a great deal of reflection, for someone so young, and is quick to include the multitude people that have surrounded and supported him every step of the way.
Currently enrolled at Mount Royal University, in Calgary, Alta., in the Athletic Therapy program, as part of his practicum, he was interning with the Calgary Flames NHL team at their training camp, working with the athletic therapists for the team, which he quite enjoyed.
He also had to laugh at the irony, he is doing all the taping and icing of ankles, legs, and taking care of injuries on the ice, when usually he is on a team needing the therapy.
“It has opened a lot of doors and brought opportunities I had never considered before.”
The classes and practicum have given him a different perspective on the game, to understand why a team does certain workouts, exercises, and routines.
“It gives you the view from the coach’s side and how you consider the health of a team. How you build the team up physically along with the mental aspects. It has been great for me in understanding another side of the game.”
He has found his niche in his current endeavours, as anything to do with athletics and teams, especially hockey, is where Adam sees his future going.
That is on partial hold, for now, however, as last week he was selected as one of two goaltenders to join Canada’s National Para Hockey Team for the 2021-2022 season, which will include competing for gold in Beijing, China at the Paralympics.
Competitive to the core, Adam handed me his silver medal he won at the 2021 IPC (International Paralympic Committee) World Para Hockey Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Canada lost in the gold medal game to the U.S. team.
“It was a heartbreaking loss, but with some time and perspective, we knew it was an amazing accomplishment. We came together from all over the country never having played together before, and we were up against teams that play all year together, so we had to gel fast.
“Overall we had a great tournament and so many positives with this group of guys. We are taking everything we learned and using this experience to move forward. It was a really tough final, but we saw how well we could play together, and we are looking at the big picture. In Beijing we are bringing home the gold.”
You can see the competitive glint in his eyes behind that smile, and I know he is proud of his silver medal, but he told me “it’s the wrong colour, but we are bringing back the gold in March.”
I for one, believe him.
Determination is in his genes. Yet Adam remains humble about how many people have helped get him to the level he is at now.
“I have always had great friends and mentors all of my life. I have been exceptionally lucky for the people that have kept me going, even in my low times, they pushed me and built me up, I cannot imagine where I would be without that core support.”
That support, of course, includes his family.
“The sacrifices they have made for me are unbelievable. They made some hard choices in supporting me, all of them did. My parents and my brother, and I never forget that no matter where I am.”
There are quite simply too many folks to list who have helped Adam, but he carries each and every one with him and it seems to humble him. He says it keeps him grounded and focussed. He wants to make the support worth it.
Does he find that sense of responsibility a heavy load to carry?
“Sometimes, but it’s never a burden. It’s a motivator for me to do better, to keep striving and setting goals that sometimes are maybe lofty, but people believe in me and have helped me believe in myself.
“If you asked me five years ago about my plans, the Paralympics were on that list, but I thought maybe that was a bit of a reach, yet here I am, and I’m going to be there and all these people have helped me make that happen. I am fortunate and grateful.”
It is because of the people in Smithers that one day Adam can see himself back here for good.
“My mom will love that I said that out loud,” he says with a laugh. But he says he genuinely loves this community and can see himself back here supporting the next generation of kids in sports “in some capacity.”
For now, though, his eyes are set firmly on the team, the season, and the golden goal that they have set.
As he heads out the door, he smiles and says, “I’ll be back Deb, and I’ll bring the gold medal and the stories to go with it.”
I assure him we will all be watching and cheering him on no matter where his journey takes him, and he takes the pride of a community with him.
To us he is already golden.