Ben Fanelli is a Canadian hockey player who finished his career with the Kitchener Rangers. When Ben was 16 years old he woke up in the hospital and was told he was lucky to be alive, he’d never play sports again and may be a different person than he was before his injury suffered in a hockey game, which caused a skull fracture and 3 brain bleeds. Ben is now the founder & host of the HeroicMinds Podcast whose mission is to create a community of people that find comfort in uncommon ground, courage in difficulty and selflessness in struggle. People that ensure they are the hero of their own story. With a story and mission like this, how could I not get him on the podcast?!
I had a blast talking with Ben because our stories and experiences are so similar. However, one way our stories differ is that Ben actually worked himself back to playing the sport he was told he'd never be able to play again. Many PCS sufferers ask me if I've posted any athlete stories who actually make a comeback to an elite level and I am happy to say this is one of those episodes. If you enjoy this interview, I have no doubt you will enjoy Ben's HeroicMinds Podcast, so check it out (no pun intended)!
Below are other topics of discussion Ben and I cover in this episode:
- Ben doesn’t remember anything from the injury, but retells to story he was given by family and friends.
- Thoughts after Ben's doctor said sports were going to be out of the question for the rest of his life.
- Dad's positive thinking that may have helped avoid brain surgery.
- The effects anti-seizure medication had on his recovery.
- Concussion symptoms Ben suffered from throughout his 2 year recovery.
- Pushing the envelope safely during recovery and the progression back to the ice.
- Mixing in balance drills and sudokus and other cognitive games into his recovery – Episode 17 w/ Tyler Belanger reference.
- What it was like going through PCS before people talked about concussions the way they do today.
- Ben's relentless pursuit of relief paying off.
- The decision to move back with his team and how that helped his recovery.
- Earning respect from the team while injured.
- The decision to pursue pro hockey again and his mother’s reservations.
- Hobbies and pursuits away from hockey while recovering.
- The difficulty in watching the team play without him.
- Importance of finding healthy distractions.
- What it was like getting back on the ice, becoming a captain and how his experience with adversity helped him captain the team.
- Ben's approach going back onto the ice (how about that comeback??!! (ABOVE)).
- Retiring from hockey and life after – Advice for the transition.
- Discussion on the hit that nearly cost him his life and his career.
- Enforcer discussion and social media's role.
- Goals with the Heroic Minds Podcast – focus on mindset through adversity.
- Why striving for balance doesn’t change the world.