Former 10th Pick Overall Forced To Retire Shares His Courageous Story

Published March 16, 2023 at 7:17 PM

Anxiety is a pervasive issue that affects a multitude of individuals, including professional hockey players. The weight of meeting high expectations from management, fans, and the media can exact a significant toll on their mental wellbeing.

Slater Koekkoek, selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning as the 10th overall pick in 2012, is one such player who experiences anxiety. Despite his potential as a talented defenseman, he endured years of silent suffering due to severe anxiety, ultimately resulting in the abandonment of his NHL aspirations.

Although he possessed promising talent, the defenseman endured years of debilitating anxiety in silence, ultimately compelling him to relinquish his NHL dreams.

Slater Koekkoek Reveals That Anxiety Forced Him To Retire

He released the following statement:

I Left the game just over a year ago and thought I would share a little bit of my story throughout the next while In case someone else is feeling shame towards their anxiety. You are not alone.

I left the game because my life inside of it had gotten to a place that was unbearable and unhealthy towards my mental health.

I would say I played a majority of my professional games without the ability to eat much, if anything, the night before and the day of the games. Hockey Night in Canada on a completely empty stomach? Lets do this, I guess.

Anxiety shows up in all shapes and forms, one of the ways mine did was the inability to eat.

I would get comments from teammates saying "hey Kooks you know the meals are free" due to my weight dwindling, without them knowing the pain I was going through. I would hear from GMs and Coaches that I needed to put on weight if I was to battle in the corners with the elite of the league not to mention the energy needed to complete these tasks as well. That just put on increased pressure.

I would be asked to go for dinner with teammates on the road. Knowing I wouldn't be able to eat, I would isolate myself and usually walk the streets settling to discreetly bring takeout to my hotel room so nobody would know if I ate or not. I kept this in as much as I could my entire career. My dad had a nervous tummy growing up, I thought that is all had. But when being continuously scrutinized for my on ice performance it caused a downward spiral. A vicious cycle of needing to eat but physically being unable.

Be kind to one another because you never know what someone might be going through. And stop commenting on people's weight... it's friggen weird.

The societal stigma surrounding mental health is gradually dissolving, with a growing number of athletes coming forward to address their struggles and receive assistance.

It is crucial to acknowledge that mental health problems can impact anyone, irrespective of their position or accomplishments. Athletes, in particular, confront distinct demands and anticipations that can negatively impact their mental and physical health.

Koekkoek participated in 126 regular season games in the NHL, tallying 5 goals and 17 assists for a cumulative total of 22 points.

As seen on Hockey Patrol - Former Top 10 Pick Reveals Why He Had To Give Up On His NHL Dreams
March 16   |   45 answers
Former 10th Pick Overall Forced To Retire Shares His Courageous Story

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