Faith. For some, it’s an ecclesiastical, life-changing, Armageddon moment that turns one into a believer. Usually those storylines are the glamourous, theatrical, ‘best viewed with 3D glasses’ kind of Hollywood plots. But unbeknownst to many, some of the strongest Christians were actually born into their faith, serving in lifelong, habitual daily practice.
Jaccob Slavin, 25-year-old defenceman for the Carolina Hurricanes, is one of those whose faith story may not be radical, or be a fit for the silver screen, per say. However, the Denver, CO. native is a first-pairing blueliner on a surging Hurricanes squad, and the way he lives his life is, in fact, rather radical for today’s standards.
Blessed with a heavy shot, a strong playmaking ability and many characteristics of a leader, the 2012 fourth-round draft pick made good on his three-year entry level contract, picking up 84 points and just 30 penalty minutes in 227 games for Carolina from 2015-2018.
That rock-solid play from the Hurricanes’ back-end earned Slavin a hefty raise, to the tune of $37.1 million. Now a veteran of over 300 professional games and sitting comfortably in his fourth season with Carolina, the former United States Hockey League stalwart is enjoying his time in Raleigh, while using childhood teachings as a way of being mindful of his newly engifted finances.
“Everything that I have been given has been given to me by God,” Slavin said. “So it can be taken away just as easy as that. My wife and I really do try our hardest to be faithful with our money, and how we spend it. As best as we can, we use good discernment with the things we are doing with it, where we give it, where we tithe it, ensuring that it’s put to good use.”
“It is way more money than what we need, but obviously I think God has a great plan for it,” he continued. “It’s certainly a lot of money that can be used for good; it is definitely a blessing from God to be able to have that.”
In the 2018-19 NHL season, Slavin teamed up with the Hurricanes for the Assist for Hunger campaign. Every time that Slavin recorded a point or assist during the regular season, he personally donated a significant portion of funds to the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation, while also encouraging fans to donate by offering autographed memorabilia as incentives. Through six months, the Assist for Hunger fund has raised over $20K.
Donation does not always have to be a quantifiable monet- ary thing, something that Slavin does not need to look far to discover.
“Our team Chaplain, Sid Graham, leads us in chapel after practice for 45 minutes or so every week,” the 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenceman said. “He’s a wonderful guy, and he and his wife Kristin have actually kind of become the ‘Raleigh parents’ of my wife and I, as we like to say. We go there for dinner a lot; they are such awesome people. However, everything that Sid does for our team — much like the other league chaplains — is all completely voluntary. So he actually has to have another regular day job. But he takes that time away from it for us, so that is amazing of him. He is a true example of Christian service.”
Slavin, who was born into Wendi and Robert Slavin’s non-denominational Christian home in Colorado, is one of the family’s five children to lace up a pair of skates… Yes, five children — all hockey players.
“All my siblings, Josiah, Jordan, Justin and Jeremiah each played as well,” Jaccob Slavin said. “So once all five of us were playing as kids at the same time, it kind of became tough to make it to church every single Sunday. But now that I’m out of the house, I’ve discovered that it’s really up to me to continue building my relationship with Christ and the Church.”
Married for four years, Slavin and his wife Kylie currently bounce between a couple of congregations regularly, as work, hockey and travel schedules keep the two always on the go. But as the Hurricanes’ defensive power play goal and blocked shot leader says, “we make it work”
“For me, Sunday’s aren’t always off days in which we can make it to church,” Slavin reflected. “Thankfully, with the technology that we have these days, there’s various services that you can stream online any day of the week. I truly think it comes down to the community and the people you surround yourself with, however. The Church isn’t just a building right? It’s the body of Christ. When you surround yourself with those kind of people you can always feel that fellowship and that community.”
CARTER BROOKS is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favourite pastime. Carter can be reached at [email protected]
Photos by Colby Spence