By Jackson Mendoza ‘23
Brent Sopel said, “It’s okay not to be okay.”
That is the message that former Stanley Cup champion Brent Sopel explained while speaking to students at Brother Rice. Sopel is widely recognized as a professional hockey player who had a fantastic career in the NHL, but Sopel hopes to create a new legacy through the Brent Sopel Foundation.
Sopel suffers from dyslexia and created the Brent Sopel Foundation to aid students who also suffer from dyslexia. Dyslexia is a reading disorder that limits a person’s ability to read at a normal pace and level. The Brent Sopel Foundation gives families financial and educational support. Sopel takes pride in the foundation and hopes it grows more popular than his career in professional hockey.
While speaking to students, Sopel opened up about his personal struggles. Sopel told stories of how his dyslexia affected his and his daughter’s life at school. Sopel’s daughter showed signs of dyslexia at a young age, and they were lucky enough to identify the disorder early. The reading disorder that Sopel suffered from motivated him even more to make it pro in hockey. The ice was an escape for Sopel from not being able to comprehend the material in school.
Addiction was another topic that Sopel opened up about. He talked about how it almost ended his life. Sopel considered his time in rehab as a wakeup call to quit his addictions and become a better person.
At the end of his speech, members of the Brother Rice varsity hockey team gifted Sopel a custom hockey sweater with his name on the back. Sopel then received roaring applause from every student and teacher that came to listen to him talk.
Sopel’s story is one that every person can relate to in some way, shape, or form. Sopel’s message is a very important one that more people need to hear and pay attention to. Dyslexia and mental health illnesses are real problems that Brent Sopel hopes to shed more light on as he continues to tell his inspiring story.