CHICAGO - Thanks to a class act from the Chicago Steel, Jack Jablonski is following his dreams.
And it all started with a tweet: Dear USHL teams, Just thought I'd let u know I am eligible for tomorrow's draft. Sincerely Jack Jablonski
Jablonski sent the tweet Monday in advance of Tuesday's United States Hockey League's Phase 2 Draft.
Jablonski, a high school junior from Benilde-St. Margaret's (Minn.), was left paralyzed after a hard check into the boards during a hockey game on December 30, 2011. He was told he'd never be able to skate again.
But that didn't mean he'd stop pursuing his dreams. He currently has an active role on his high school team as a student assistant coach and wants to pursue a career in the NHL in some day.
Tuesday, a step in the direction of Jablonski's dream was realized when, after seeing his tweet, theChicago Steel selected Jablonski with their final pick of the USHL draft.
Jablonski didn't even know what had happened because he was at Game 4 of the Minnesota Wild-Chicago Blackhawks series with his friends when his phone rang.
During the game, Jablonski got a text from high school teammate Chase Jungels, who had already been selected by Chicago.
"He told me to answer the phone if someone calls," Jablonski told For The Win.
Problem was, hockey games are loud and arenas tend to have spotty service, so Jablonski texted Jungels back saying he probably wouldn't be able to hear anything if someone called. Jungels told his friend to answer anyway.
"Turns out my phone was on vibrate so I didn't hear it go off," Jablonski said. "And I can't feel my legs, so I missed the call."
Before he could check his messages, Jablonski said he received congratulatory texts from friends and had no idea what was going on. After the game, he listened to the voicemail from the Steel, telling him they had selected him in the draft. He quickly called the organization back and spoke to head coach and general manager Scott McConnell, who welcomed Jablonski to the team.
"At first I was shocked," Jablonski said. "That tweet was not quite serious, but it was amazing to find out that a team supports me like that. I'm very thankful."
Jablonski and his foundation BEL13VE in Miracles became popular on Twitter after his injury. He currently has a nice collection of 54,249 followers. Thanks to social media, Chicago was able to find him.
"As an organization, our slogan last year was 'Heart + Passion,' and he embodies everything we're looking for," said John Montalbano, Director of Business Operations for the Steel. "His determination not only to be able to walk again and strive for success, but his willingness and eagerness to be around the sport still, it's everything that we're looking for in what we want to bring to our organization."
Jablonski, who is currently a captain on his high school team, doesn't know what his role will be with the Steel yet. He'll travel to Chicago for their camp in June and meet with the coaches and go from there.
He doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up, just as long as he stays involved with hockey in some capacity.
And the Steel will steer him in the right direction.
"We want to help him further his career," Montalbano said.
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