Every month, the NHLOA will feature one of its officials in this Q&A series.
This month’s member is Garrett Rank who just got hired this summer under a minor league contract with the NHL. Born and raised in Elmira Ontario, the 27 years old went to the University of Waterloo where he earned his degree in business finance with honors in economics. Garret is still to date, a member of the Golf Canada Amateur Team and recently won the Canadian men’s mid-amateur championship at the Barrie Country Club. This win earned him an exemption into the 2015 RBC Canadian Open (PGA Tour) next year at Oakville’s Glen Abbey. Although this championship was an impressive accomplishment in his life so far, Garret’s biggest victory to date is without a doubt the fact that he is a Cancer survivor. The NHLOA is proud to welcome Garret on its team and wishes him a long and successful career!
Q: How old are you?
A:I am 27 years old.
Q: Where are you born?
A: Born and raised in Elmira, ON
Q: How did you learn that the NHL was hiring you?
A: I had a meeting at the Toronto NHL office with Steven Walkom and he offered me a position.
Q: Are you a linesman or a referee?
Q:How was your first NHL training camp?
A: It was a great experience and a lot of fun. All the guys were really friendly and even let the Red Team win the trophy in the hockey tournament!! (I was of course part of the Red Team!!!)
Q:What impressed you the most at this first training camp?
A: The average person doesn't see the camaraderie between the guys on the ice because they act like professionals. I always knew that officials were "the 3rd team on the ice" but to see the passion and friendships the guys have is what impressed me the most.
Q: Did you play hockey, and if so, for how long, or until what age?
A:I started playing hockey at the ripe age of 5 and played until my 3rd year of university. I grew up playing in the Woolwich minor hockey system and played Junior B hockey for my hometown Elmira Sugar Kings with whom I became a Cherrey Cup Champion and Sutherland Cup Finalist my graduating season. I then spent 2 seasons in the OUA with the Waterloo Warriors before my passion for golf and officiating took up too much of my time.
Q: How old were you when you first started officiating? Why did you start?
A: I became a level 1 official in the Hockey Canada system at the age of 14. My dad had been an official for numerous years and I thought it was a fun and easy job to make a couple bucks Saturday and Sunday mornings!!
Q:Who has helped you the most throughout your journey to the NHL staff?
A:Doug and Murray Martin of the EDHRA (Elmira District Hockey Referees Association) were instrumental in providing the support and guidance a young official needed. They drove home OMHA policies and procedures at a young age, and then opened doors to provincial championships when I was old enough. They always told me if I kept working hard that I had the tools to be a great official. Officiating then took a back seat to my playing career and golf.
It wasn't until I stopped playing at university that Lance Roberts really pushed me and got me passionate about trying to officiate as a full time job. He opened the door to the OHA, where I worked for Charlie Lennox/Bob Morley and Hockey Canada, where I met Rick Morphew and Todd Anderson. These guys tested me with experiences and opportunities such as the World Under 17s and National Championships that made me a better official. From there, Conrad Hache and his OHL Officiating Managers believed in me and provided me with a platform to graduate to the NHL/AHL.
I listed a lot of people and definitely didn't mention them all. I owe a lot of credit to a lot of different people and if it weren’t for these people, I would not be the official I am today. These guys have provided the instruction, guidance and motivation that as allowed me to reach one of my goals and realize a dream!
Q: You are a testicular cancer survivor, how did you found out that you had cancer?
A: I was working a hockey game and was having some discomfort. I knew something wasn't right so I went to the Doctor and he ordered an ultrasound. When the results came back, they had discovered a tumor.
Q: What was your first reaction when the word "cancer" was said to you?
A: I never believed it; to this day I still don't look at myself as a cancer survivor. I don't know why! I think I felt like I was in such good shape, so young and so healthy that it was essentially impossible it was actually cancer. I mean I guess it really was, but it was only a mass, they were able to remove it with surgery and I didn't have to do any chemotherapy or radiation. Foolish mental approach and quite naive thinking back but I think it helped me battle through and stay positive as I recovered.
Q: Can you describe a little your journey during your battle with cancer?
It all happened really fast. I went to the Doctor on the Tuesday and was having surgery on the Monday of the next week, so I didn't have much time to dwell on it. Aside from 3-4 weeks of bed rest, where I was getting quite bored and could only watch so much daytime television I consider myself extremely lucky. It hadn't spread anywhere else in my body and I only needed the surgery and avoided all the treatments. A lot of observation and testing the following year, that decreased as time went on, to now where I visit once a year, ending in year 5.
Q: Any advice that you could would give to a person that just learned that he has testicular cancer?
A: Cancer is a scary word and in some cases can drastically affect your body. Thankfully testicular cancer is very curable but doctors these days are so professional and intelligent that they can almost defeat anything. Maintaining a positive outlook and approach really helped me. Early detection in my case really meant a simply procedure and quick recovery. Regular self-examination is essential because it is far more common in Men 19-45 then most would believe.
Q: How has helped you the most thru these difficult times?
A: Sports has been a huge outsource. I probably returned to the ice sooner than some people would have liked but it was my escape and provided a great deal of happiness. Obviously, my family and friends have been really supportive and spent a lot of time with me.
Q: As a cancer survivor, how this has changed your life?
A: Being a cancer survivor has really freed me up my mental approach to life and athletics. It has allowed me to embrace a bogey or a missed call and move on because I'd much rather be playing golf or refereeing a hockey game then the alternative! It also allowed me to slow down and enjoy and appreciate the things life has to offer because I was always so busy and working so hard!
Q: November is also known as the "Movember" month where men grow their "stache" to raise awareness and money to prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental help problems. Do you plan on ditching the razor this year?
A: Absolutely, it hasn't been a very good look on me the past couple of years but it's great to support the cause and share a good laugh!!