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Make like Jake

Jake Bean is an NHL defenceman currently playing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and formerly with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. In the 2020/21 season, The Hurricanes finished the regular season at the top of the league’s standings and played through to the second round of the playoffs where they ran into an unforgiving wall from somewhere in Florida.

Cracking the Hurricane’s very highly regarded defense corps two seasons ago was just the latest entry on the list of accomplishments of this Calgary born and raised 23-year-old. Highlighting this list: two gold medals and one silver as a member of Canadian junior national hockey teams; the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers, 2019-20 AHL champions; and the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman, 2019-20. 

Photo of Jake Bean working out

Jake’s style is best described as unrelenting on defense and dynamic on offense. He’s an exceptionally fluid skater with power and speed to spare. This remarkable mobility – combined with confident puck-handling, wide and perceptive vision, accurate passing and a seasoned tactician’s feel for the game – makes Jake a fully engaged defender and a creative and dangerous attacker. Watching his quicksilver transformation is always entertaining, from a determined disruptor of an opponent’s well practiced plans into a freewheeling, deceptive, pull-a-rabbit-out-a-hat wizard of scoresheet magic.

Reflecting on the 2020/21 season, Jake says that playing in arenas emptied of fans by pandemic restrictions was surreal.  The players missed the noise and raw energy of arenas packed to the rafters. He describes the roar of the crowd as an incredible boost that players learn to channel in a positive and controlled way. Of course, even with no one in the seats, the players had their teammates, trainers and support staff to cheer them on, and, more judiciously, their coaches.

But Jake will tell you that the empty venues brought to the fore his internal drivers, those things that motivate him to play hard and train hard every day, including during the offseason. These are the same category of drivers that those of us with Parkinson’s must call on to exercise (or dare we say, train!) as often as we can bear. While we are just as happy that there are no stadiums or arenas filled with spectators grading our routines, it is very encouraging to know that, in this most narrow of ways, we are in the company of an elite professional athlete like Jake.

Since being traded to the Blue Jackets, Jake has achieved a lead role with the team, and he is especially strong in the three-on-three overtime tiebreakers, a testament to his exceptional skill, speed and, of course, endurance, one of the payoffs, Jake might say, of his dedication to those offseason workouts he described to us…and an inspiration to us all to stick to our own (more pedestrian) workouts. 

PAA: It’s said that the hardest thing about getting started with each day’s exercise is getting started. How do you get started?

I don’t believe there is a secret sauce to “getting started”. I believe like any habit, if you commit to it, and continue to just “gut it out” early, it’s something that will become habitual and a little easier as you go. There are good days and bad days, and it’s important on those tough days to recognize how important it is to “get started” and get your work done. Often you will find through doing this, fewer bad days, and a realization that maybe the dread wasn’t warranted after all!

PAA: Do you have your training routine fully mapped out for each session?

I have my training routines fully mapped out from the start of summer. Hockey players will go through different “phases”.  From movement oriented, to strength, to power and everything in between, phases are mapped out personally for me to help me peak when next season start. 

PAA: Describe one of the strategies you use to keep yourself engaged and working hard day after day, week after week?

To stay motivated day after day week after week is similar to getting started as there is no secret formula. I think looking at your exercise each day as something that you just “do” versus something that you “may do” or “could do” creates an environment where there’s no internal debate to whether or not you will hit your goals for that day. 

PAA: What kind of pie and ice cream do you do to reward yourself with for a workout well done?

I will never discriminate against any pie, or ice cream. However, my favourite is apple pie, with vanilla ice cream.  

PAA: Thank you Jake and good luck all round and good luck especially next season.  We’ll be cheering you on!

Jake Bean was interviewed by the contributor of this article, Brian Bullen, a new board member of the Parkinson’s Association of Alberta.