At 14 years old, TJ Dlugos has already been playing hockey for more than half his life. Make it 8 years, to be exact. His mom, a competitive figure skater, has been his biggest influence. After TJ’s mom graduated college, she began teaching skating classes in Chicago, Boston, and Grand Rapids. TJ often tagged along and started becoming quite the skater. Once TJ became a great skater, nothing was stopping him from becoming a hockey player.
Hockey has been apart of his family for a long time. TJ’s Grandfather, who grew up in Chicago, played hockey in the streets growing up. TJ’s Uncle currently competes in the ATC (Air Traffic Controller) Tournament, in addition to playing hockey in Bled, Slovenia. As if the family’s hockey history doesn’t go deep enough, TJ’s Aunt is a translator for the AHIHA Deaf Olympic Team. TJ also has a cousin who directs a skating rink in Chicago, and her husband played on the Deaf Olympic Team. According to TJ, “I guess you can kind of say it’s in my blood.”
Throughout TJ’s 8 years of playing hockey, he has achieved his fair share of individual accomplishments, including several hat tricks and playmaker awards. TJ has also been the highest scorer on many of his teams. For five years straight, TJ has been named a Scholastic Star. Despite the individual success, TJ believes the best success will always be measured by team accomplishments. “The greatest accomplishments were with teams I’ve played on, winning championships, district championships, and playing in the state playoffs,” TJ explained. TJ also played internationally in Europe where his team went 4-2. In 2014, TJ won a gold medal competing in the State Games of Michigan Ice Hockey Tournament.
When asked about his secret to success, TJ outlined several points that every hockey player should consider if they want to be great. These points included practicing edge work and stick handling, thinking about where the puck will be ahead of time, and showing respect to everyone involved. TJ also stressed the importance of being a leader on and off the ice, training hard, and keeping a positive attitude in which you never give up.
Heading into the future, TJ hopes he can use these skills to play Division 1 Hockey at the University of Notre Dame. After college, TJ says his dreams would come true if he could play professionally in the NHL, along with representing his country in the Olympics, IIHF, World Championships, and World Juniors. Combine TJ’s knowledge of the game with a long list of achievements, and it is safe to say this young hockey star is well on his way.