Sports writer George Vecsey once said, "Some of us love hockey not just for its ferocity and skill but for its underlying code of civility off the ice." That's undoubtedly what the Ice Dogs have with Pee Wee player Mason Asis. This 12-year-old lives by the code.
"[Mason] is extremely dedicated to his team by taking extra clinics and lessons with other coaches at Glacier Ice Arena," states his coach, Charice Paoli.
As many coaches know, perseverance and fun go hand and hand. "The amazing thing about Mason is that he only started playing hockey one year ago," says Paoli. "He worked very hard in the learn to skate/play program. And then he transitioned onto a Pee Wee team seamlessly."
Now in his second year, Mason has become a role model to first-year Pee Wees and others who want to try hockey for the first time by working as a volunteer coach for the Little Dogs and Rookie Dogs teams. Both teams are a part of the learn to skate/learn to play program.
Dedication, passion, perseverance, and sportsmanship—are all critical makings of an "athlete of the month." SportsEngine and TrueSport were incredibly excited to sit down with Mason as TrueSport Ambassador, and three-time Paralympian Tyler Carter interviewed him as our next Athlete of the Month. Get to know Mason and Tyler in the brief interview below.
Tyler: I'm a huge believer in giving back to your community and helping the next generation. Can you tell me how you got into volunteering your time?
Mason: So it started when I was doing private lessons with my coach. She wanted some help with the Little Dogs, which is a hockey team for toddlers, so I worked with her to help them learn the different techniques of skating and puck-handling.
Tyler: That's so cool. So hockey, how'd you pick hockey? I mean skiing, I kind of just fell into it myself, but I am curious why you jumped into it.
Mason: Well, I'm from North Carolina originally, so I didn't really know much about it. I was just on YouTube one day, and I saw a hockey highlight video, and I just started to watch those. It inspired me to try it. Once I moved to Chicago, I was inspired even more to do it since they have more rinks here, and it's more popular.
Tyler: Alright, so we talked about, you know, volunteering is a big part of how you got into hockey now for you. Did someone influence you to get into volunteering, or was there someone you looked up to that was like, "Oh yeah, you know, you're a great role model for me; I should do this?
Mason: Uh, not really. I'm one of the first people I know and the first in my family ever to play hockey. So it's new to everybody in my family.
Tyler: That's great, though. You know, for me, no one in my family skis, and or maybe did it once and had a terrible experience. So I was the only skier in my family. So I get where you're at in sports, and you're breaking the mold and figuring it out. And I really respect that. That's amazing. Do you have a favorite position or one you play the most?
Mason: Oh definitely, center.
Big dreams on and off the ice
Tyler: Nice, that's awesome. Is the dream to go pro?
Mason: As I get older, I think I want to go to Michigan for college and try to study engineering.
Tyler: Any area specific in engineering?
Mason: Mostly cars, but there are a lot of options.
Tyler: I love it—that's great. I just retired from skiing after this last season, and I am at the point where I will still ski my whole life but not into compete anymore. It's been more about the memories for me. Do you have a favorite hockey memory from last season that just sticks out for you as a cool moment?
Mason: It was from the corner, and I just randomly shot it. I just blinked for a second and then heard a whistle. I thought the goalie caught it. But when I opened my eyes, I saw it was in the net. And I felt relieved and like so much happiness.
Mason's mom chimes in and says, "Don't forget about the championship game!"
Mason: Oh yeah, that wasn't the championship game, but also a good moment. I was also the only person to score in the championship game.
Tyler: How cool is that? How do you support your teammates through tough times?
Mason: Oh well, I pass the puck a lot. Also, when I am on the bench or A-line coming out, I always give the team fist bumps, especially if they're scoring and someone is just coming up from a lower level. I try to encourage them and help them adjust as much as I can.
Tyler: It's not so often that I always hear like in team sports, that's really great—another huge part of being a team player. Speaking of your team, your coach nominated you as our 'athlete of the month,' if you could say anything to her, what would you say?
Mason: Thank you, and thank you for like helping me get better constantly.
- Favorite sport to play (other than hockey)? Volleyball
- Favorite sport to watch? Baseball
- Favorite team? White Sox
- Favorite Athlete: Greg Olsen (Former pro football player)
- Go-to pre-game snack/post-game treat? Pizza or pretzels with cheese
- Biggest role model? Sebastian Aho (Pro hockey player)
- Dream place to visit? United Kingdom
Songs Tyler and Mason recommend to help hype you up before a big game or race:
- Mason's rec: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
- Tyler's rec: "I've been on a Machine Gun Kelly kick lately. Anything from his last two albums."