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Matt Duchene’s Life Serves as Motivation For Youngsters

Matt Duchene is in the midst of his seventh season with the Colorado Avalanche. It started out slow but in the last few weeks he’s caught fire to get back to being almost a point-per-game player. I’ve covered him since he played for the Brampton Battalion in the OHL and yet when I interviewed him about Think It Up Live, I learned a lot more about him.

“My agency brought it to me and thought it would be a good fit. My mom was a guidance counselor and education was a big part of my upbringing. I gave a few words of advice to these kids,” Duchene said casually.

Education has played a big part in Matt’s life so he was the perfect person for this event.

“I think I made it pretty clear from the time that I started to play hockey that I didn’t want to be a doctor, or a lawyer or anything like that. I wanted to be a hockey player,” he stated. “She was ok with that she had 4 brothers who chased the dream for a while. One of them is a coach in Arizona right now (Newell Brown). 2 out of four got drafted into the NHL and 3 out of the 4 had scholarships.”

A science fair-meets “shark tank”-type event, Think It Up Live will allow students to create and pitch innovative learning projects to judges and experts.  All participating teams will be awarded $100 funding credits to kick-start their projects; the top winner will receive $1K. The students’ teachers can then post the projects at, a site that gives the public an opportunity to help fund the Denver projects.

“It’s great to see how many big names are supporting this,” Duchene added. “It’s a pretty cool idea. They played a video and people like Matthew McConaughey, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, and Jennifer Garner to name a few to show support for this.”

Coming from dysart et al, Ontario (population under 6,000 people in 2011) made him the man he is today.

“I just told the kids my story a little bit. That I’m from a really small town. I always had great people around me, teachers and coaches who helped keep me grounded. They can do the same thing. It doesn’t matter who you are and where you’re from. You just have to follow your dreams and think big for sure.”

Just 24, Duchene already has an Olympic Gold medal. He won that with Team Canada in 2014. With the World Cup coming up next year I wondered when he would start to focus on playing in that tournament?

“From the second they said it was a possibility it was a goal of mine to make that team,” he said with conviction. “That’s kind of my next goal along with making the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup. Which is a yearly dream. I’d love to make that team and since they’ve announced that tournament it’s kind of been a goal of mine. No different than the last Olympics and we all saw how successful that was the light time around.”

I’m excited to see what kinds of projects come out of this.

* Public school students in grades 7-12 can work with their teachers to develop projects that  draw on their passions and connect what they are working on in the classroom to the challenges they will face in the future.  Their ideas then will be crowd-funded.

*Think It Up is made possible through the generous support of corporations, foundations and philanthropists. Think It Up major supporters include Staples, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ExxonMobil and Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative, as well as founding collaborator, the XQ Institute.

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene talks to middle and high school students at EIF’s Think It Up Live event Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Denver.  (Photo byJack Dempsey/Invision for EIF/AP Images)

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