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May1WedMark Scheifele makes time for faith in the high-pressure world of the NHL. May 1, 2019 by Jayne Thurber-Smith
In the hotheaded world of hockey, the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele’s use of G-rated vocabulary stands out. If he gets really upset at a bad or missed call, he might raise his voice—but that’s as bad as it gets.
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- Faith & Friends
In fact, it’s so unusual that it was mentioned in a highlight video of Mark shown during his first and long-overdue NHL All-Star appearance in January.
How did he escape incorporating some of the foul language used by players and coaches at the local rink his entire life?
“Growing up, I got used to hearing swear words on the ice,” he says. “You can’t change what people are saying—that’s their life—so I got used to tuning it out. Some guys would joke here and there about me not swearing, but I was lucky to have great friends around me who understood ‘that’s the way Scheif is’ and accepted me for it. If I were to say a curse word in front of my mom, she would lose her mind!”
Faith and Fellowship
Mark’s mother, father and siblings have all been very supportive throughout his career.
“In minor hockey, I wore the same number I have now—55—because my brother Kyle wore it and I wanted to be like him,” Mark says. “We wished we could have played on the same hockey team but couldn’t because he is two years older than I am. As kids, he and I did everything else together: basketball, road hockey, football. He is one of my biggest fans. I wouldn’t be where I am without my family.”
“No matter what I face, I want to shine my light and glorify God.” Mark ScheifeleThe Scheifeles also knew the importance of making time for faith in their lives.
“We went to church every Sunday unless there was some conflict or other,” Mark says, “and I have kept up that habit ever since. Church is hard to fit in right now with our hockey schedule, but we have a team chaplain through Hockey Ministries International. My teammates and I do chapel with him when we can. Days we can get together are always good days. Fellowship is a huge part of my life.”
Mark’s strong faith in God has helped guide him through his life choices thus far.
“I was committed to Cornell University’s hockey team, but then my rights were traded to the Barrie Colts from the Saginaw Spirit,” he says. “So I decided to go the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) route. I am very happy with the way things worked out, as God showed me the right way to go.”
Mark was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, but making it to the NHL is not a guarantee of staying there. He was sent back down to the OHL twice in his first two seasons, and was benched with a knee injury for the last two months of his third season.
“It’s tough in the Canadian market—they decide how good you’re going to be at 18,” Paul Maurice, the Jets’ head coach, said to Sportsnet. “But that didn’t faze Mark at all. Each year he just got a little bit better, a little bit stronger.”
Winnipeg Jets fans were without a NHL team in their city for 15 years, so they were ecstatic to welcome Mark along with the entire team, which relocated from Atlanta in 2011. Mark uses the pressure of playing in a highly followed hockey market to help push him to greater heights, rather than let it get to him.
“As athletes, we are always competitive with ourselves anyway,” he says. “Obviously, you go through ups and downs. I know I will have to deal with adversity, but God has a reason for everything. No matter what I face, I want to shine my light and glorify Him. I take the role I play in the community here as a Christian very seriously.”
He maintains a healthy devotional life, taking time every morning to study the Bible and how it relates to his life and whatever he is going through.
“Sometimes you go through times when you doubt God,” Mark says. “I would be lying if I said my relationship with Him was always amazing. But knowing He has a plan for me definitely keeps me close to Him. Days don’t always go as planned, both good and bad things happen, but I remember God’s on my side. That allows me to keep at an even keel.
“So don’t worry whether it’s a good or bad day. At the end of every day, you can always thank Him for what He has done.”