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28 FOCUS - APRIL 2016 ...................... Please turn to page 38 THE BEST IS YET TO COME Few 11-year-olds can identify their career ambition but Ethan Best defies the odds with an emphatic statement. I want to play in the NHLNational Hockey League he says resolutely. Its a lofty goal that one and a challenge not to be taken lightly. Many thousands of youngsters across North America and Europe play the sport the elite players vying for fewer than one thousand roster positions on the NHLs member teams. But for a young man with a singular focus and the natural talent to accompany it anythings possible. Also in Ethans favour lies an equally critical factor the unwavering support of his family. Balance is important to ensure Ethan turns out a well-rounded person says his mother Kerri. And as a family of four we keep our priorities straight not sacrific- ing overall time together for hockey. Some measure of those governing philosophies came from another branch of the family whose first-hand ex- perience and sage advice have proven invaluable. My cousin Mike Fisher plays for the Nashville Predators Ethan explains proudly. Theyre my favour- ite team. Ethans on-ice journey began at a mere three years old with regular attendance at public skating and eventu- ally participation in developmental Timbit hockey. His father Shannon recalls indicators of things to come from those earliest days. He always wanted a stick in his hand when he was skating at first for balance. Soon he was using it to stick- handle as he skated. He took to those hockey skills like it was second nature. At the root of his rapid athletic growth was Ethans passion for the game. Ive liked hockey ever since I can remember he says. I always felt good skating. From his beginnings in organized leagues his parents agree he was noticed. He was always big and tall for his age so he stood out Kerri recalls. Ethan spent his first year at the Novice level with the Port Perry Predators. But continued improvement as well as swifter development meant seeking out a larger centre and the following year he joined the Central Ontario Wolves based in Lindsay. The Wolves program where he continues today allowed him to play with elite players and face stiffer competition. I didnt think Id make the team Ethan recalls of his initial tryout. The players were really skilled and it was very competitive. I learned about off-ice things I could do to get better. A skating treadmill which simulates the on-ice version was one activity he took on as well as further instruction in power skating. Maintaining their guiding principles Ethans parents made certain he wouldnt be pigeon-holed as only a hockey player.