By Matt Stefano
It’s been five years since a Soo Thunderbird player got recognized nationally for their school work, but this weekend in Lloydminster, Alberta, it was announced that defenceman Brandon Grandinetti has been named the 2016 Canadian Junior Hockey League – RBC scholastic player of year.
“I couldn’t believe it at first,” said Grandinetti, after hearing he was the recipient. “Took some more conversation with Dean McIntosh from Hockey Canada for me to believe it. I was home alone, and it was a long distance number, so I wasn’t even going to answer it, but I’m glad I did, and it put an instant smile on my face.”
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native, who had just completed his third season with the Soo Thunderbirds, has also completed his second year of biology at Algoma University.
“School and hockey definitely keep me busy, I have gained great time management skills from balance,” continued Grandinetti. “I just have to focus my mind on whatever what in the day is, if I’m at the rink, I’m focused on that, but if I’m in class, my mind is there. Also, studying on the bus was a regular occurrence for me, I feel I need to do that to excel in the classroom.”
Prior to winning this award, Grandinetti’s high marks in school have not gone unnoticed throughout his three seasons playing with the Soo Thunderbirds, as he was named the team scholastic player of the year back to back times in 2015 and 2016, before being named the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s scholastic player of the year this season.
“All of my coaching staff have helped me tremendously in my time with the T-Birds,” continued the T-Bird defenceman. “They know the game very well and have lots to offer. I can tell my game has improved very much from when I first came to the team, I feel I was fortunate to have Smitty and Mauny for the past three seasons and Rebek and Bricker for the past couple. Cole was also a great addition to the staff that taught me a lot even in his short time with the team.”
Grandinetti, who earned a $5000 scholarship courtesy of RBC, hopes to one day become a chiropractor or a physiotherapist.
“After I finish biology, I hope to go into a physiotherapy program or attend chiropractic college,” concluded the T-Birds assistant captain. “I have thought of other health fields too, but it’s just something I have to figure out when the time comes.”
Grandinetti becomes the first Soo Thunderbird to win the RBC national Junior A scholarship since Geoff Gieni did back in 2011.
(Photo credit to James Egan’s Sports Photography)