Thank you, Queen's

Set to graduate, former men’s hockey goalie and current assistant coach Kevin Bailie pens a letter to Queen’s

Kevin Bailie (left) and Spencer Abraham (right).
Kevin Bailie (left) and Spencer Abraham (right).
Credit: 
Robin Kasem
You remember the commercial: “What’s Your Thing?”
 
“Bugs.”
 
“My thing’s sound effects. Here’s a T-Rex.”
 
“Everybody’s gotta have a thing.”
 

I remember. Even if you don’t, you get the idea.
 
As a Catholic kid born in the early 90’s, both the church and the state consistently lectured my generation about how everyone is given a talent—all you have to do is find it.
 
Well, that was easy enough. I already knew my mine. Hockey. 
 
This will sound silly to most—and familiar to a few—but from an early age I was told, and firmly believed, the only job I’d ever have is playing hockey. There was no reason to consider anything else. For over a decade, I’d played with and against the best players in the world, and never once left the ice feeling outclassed. 
 
Hockey would be how I supported myself and my family. There was no backup plan.
 
Regardless of the merit of that belief, walking into a university class for the first time at nearly 22 years old—leading to confusion amongst my newfound peers of whether or not I was their 
TA—was a humbling experience, and solidified the realization that things didn’t always quite go according to plan. 
 
I had to reinvent myself before I had even truly found myself.
 
This struggle isn’t unique to me, and far from the worst adversity one can face. I’ve never lost sight of that. However, I can honestly say that dealing with this internal conflict not even a quarter way through life is a reality nobody should be envious of. I vividly remember long nights tasked with the overwhelming search to discover my future place in the world. At the same time, many of my former teammates were losing their way in that same pursuit.
 
Luckily for me, I had you, Queen’s.
 
You immersed me in a fiercely proud academic culture, sparking interests in subjects I never imagined I’d have.
 
You connected me with strangely similar alumni who’ve gone on to accomplish great things, giving me confidence to never limit my ambitions.
 
You provided me with a unique group of coaches and teammates, most of whom I now consider family, to lean on unconditionally.
 
You developed minds before me that have become industry leaders, fostering a close-knit network that takes pride in sticking together.
 
You built a community with a genuine concern for important social issues, such as mental health, allowing people to feel comfortable asking for help.
 
You introduced me to selfless individuals like Dr. Dean Tripp, who made those unbearably long nights a lot less lonely.
 
Now, fast-forward six years. 
 
I’m on a plane carrying my best friends. We’re coming home to you from a national championship in Alberta—the ninth province I’ve been privileged enough to represent your historic Tricolour in. 
 
I’m weeks away from a J.D. degree, and months away from embarking on my next challenge, working at Canada’s premier corporate law firm, Stikeman Elliott. 
 
So … What’s My Thing?
 
Some could say it’s science.
 
Some will say it’s law.
 
Some might say it’s advocating for disadvantaged groups.
 
Some would even try to say it’s still hockey.
 
But, thanks to you, Queen’s, I don’t have to say it’s any single one of them—because my thing now is knowing people can have more than one purpose in life.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.