This month’s Alberta Elite Hockey League Alumni Spotlight features Stephen Pattison, formerly of the Red Deer U15 AAA Rebels .
Stephen grew up playing his grassroots hockey with the Red Deer Minor Hockey Association, joining organized hockey at the age of five, but got into hockey even earlier than that, as his father built him a backyard rink when he was just three years old.
“Without my family I would have never had the opportunity to play they game,” said Stephen. “I was also never pushed by my mother or father to play. Every season I was always asked if I wanted to play, they made it my decision, not theirs.”
Following his minor hockey days, Stephen played for the Red Deer U15 AAA Rebels for the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. After a season of U18 AA, he made the jump to the Alberta Junior Hockey League, suiting up for the St. Albert Saints in 2003-04.
After shifting over to the British Columbia Hockey League, Stephen played three more years of Junior A with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs from 2004-2007. Following his Junior career, he went east to Ontario to Brock University, where he played for the Badgers for three season from 2007-2010.
Although he had the opportunity to play all across Canada, and overseas, Stephen said his best memories all point back to the relationships he made along the way.
“Building friendships and the camaraderie that is built through playing with like minded individuals,” he said. “Playing for the person next to you, and knowing that they are doing the same for you.”
Stephen also credits his coaches for the success he experienced both on and off the ice.
“My coaches understood that skill development was vitally important to all of our development as players,” he said. “We spent countless hours working on the development of the five skill sets that a hockey player needs to succeed and very little time on concepts. The mindset of growth and process lead to our product on ice and ultimately the success of all of us.”
Stephen would eventually return home to Red Deer, and has been an assistant coach with the Red Deer U18 AAA Chiefs since 2014, and is currently in his eighth season behind the bench with team.
“I had good, great and very poor coaches in my life,” he said. “Now as a coach, I take the lessons I learned from all of them. What to do by the coaches I admired, and what definitely not to do by my poor ones.”
He took his passion for coaching a step further in 2018, joining Hockey Alberta as the Manager, Hockey Development, and is responsible for the development of both coaches and players across the province.
“I have had the opportunity to work and play in fantastic towns and countries,” Stephen said of his hockey career. “As a player, I was able to play in three provinces across Canada, and in Sweden. As a coach, I have lived in Banff and traveled to Japan and Germany. Ultimately, these opportunities have led to my current position working in hockey.”
Stephen’s advice for young, aspiring athletes was simple; enjoy the journey, and stay in the game as long as you can.