NORTHRIDGE, Calif. — The sport of ice hockey has been a huge aspect of life for Camden native Grayson Szumilas, a 2014 graduate of Camden Hills Regional High School, no matter what part of the world he has lived in.
Szumilas, like many ice hockey players in the Midcoast, grabbed hockey sticks at a young age.
“I was so young when I started playing,” he said. “I seem to remember seeing it on TV and wanting to play because of the speed. However, my parents will tell me that they placed me in hockey in order for me to have an outlet for my aggression. That seems plausible, and so I suppose I have my parents to thank.”
In fact, Szumilas fondly recalls pond hockey games of the Midcoast, something he misses in California.
“There’s nothing like playing shirts [against] skins on a frozen lake when the temperature is far below freezing,” he noted.
Following his time on the ice in Rockport, Szumilas spent time playing for the Düsseldorfer Eislauf-Gemeinschaft hockey team in Düsseldorf, Germany, and for the Vancouver Rangers, of the Western States Hockey League, in Canada.
The six-foot-one forward made a calculated decision to get where he is today — a freshman on the California State University at Northridge ice hockey team, which competes in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
“I knew I wanted to live in [Southern California] so I did my research to find out a little bit more about the hockey in that area,” Szumilas said. “It was clear that if I wanted to play for an elite team in [Los Angeles], it had to be CSUN.”
Szumilas said it, of course, helped that the campus is, as he says, absolutely stunning.
At CSUN, Szumilas is majoring in linguistics since he has always been passionate about creative speech.
Szumilas is still working out career goals, though he is considering teaching accents to actors or using computational linguistics to develop speech for artificial intelligence.
Perhaps he will instead further his passion of music.
“I make music in my spare time, it’s sort of in this half hobby half profession stage at the moment,” he said. “It’s a big reason behind my decision to move to L.A., might as well go to college and pursue a dream at the same time right?”
His music abilities is actually what Szumilas considers to be his greatest life accomplishment, to date.
“I’ve only been at it for four years and I’m already at that ‘L.A. Level’,” he remarked. “I still have a long way to go but I can’t help but be a little proud of how far I’ve come.”
Inspiring Szumilas to follow his dreams and passions is his father.
“He’s done a lot for me, so I have this tremendous drive to work hard and make him proud,” Szumilas said. “I’m able to wake up every day and know I got someone looking out for me, so I’d just like to do the same.”
For those interested in playing collegiate athletics, Szumilas says to develop a plan and start sending emails to coaches.
“The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to receive a response. That’s how I played in Europe, and that’s how I got out here. Just be sure to have your stats ready and keep it professional.”
In the future, Szumilas intends on traveling to Sweden, a place he has attempted to explore for the past few years, though he is not sure when he will make the trek.
“It’s just not the right time yet, but I’ll be sure to do it eventually,” he stated. “The language is super goofy, which fits my personality, and I hear the quality of life is superb over there!”
Fittingly, his favorite quote comes from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”
Reach George Harvey and the sports department at: firstname.lastname@example.org.