EDMONTON- A young Edmonton man’s hockey career may in jeopardy, because of a medical problem he says hasn’t affected him in years.
Reed Linaker, 21, first had troubles with his heart when he was 15-years-old.
“Back in Bantam hockey I had an episode where I came off the ice, was feeling rapid heart beat, my chest was really hurting, went to the dressing room and collapsed.”
After having multiple tests done, Linaker was told his heart beats a bit faster than most. And after getting full medical clearance from his doctor, Linaker continued to pursue a hockey scholarship in the States, which has long been his number one goal.
“At that point I just continued to play in the AJHL and got my scholarship.”
After four seasons with the AJHL, Linaker received a full scholarship to Penn State University. But one week after arriving on campus he received some bad news.
“(The doctor) said ‘listen, we’re not going to be able to clear you.'”
Linaker says he was told by the campus doctor that after he was cleared again by his doctor at home, he’d be allowed to hit the ice with the Penn State Nittany Lions. Over Thanksgiving, Linaker met with his physician and was given a clean bill of health. But, Linaker didn’t get the good news he had hoped for from Penn State.
“They basically told me that they’re happy that I was healthy, but I’d never be cleared as an athlete at Penn State.
“I was at a loss for words, really,” Linaker explained. “I was going in fully confident that I was going to be able to skate maybe that day or even the day after. It was definitely a tough pill to swallow.”
In a written statement, Penn State Team Physician Dr. Peter Seidenberg said, “Penn State disagrees with Mr. Linaker’s conclusion that he was cleared to play.”
“Penn State cannot provide additional specific information due to HIPAA privacy protections; however, we must underscore that the University’s determination was based on its student-athlete’s safety and the physical standards required by Penn State policies and procedures,” Seidenberg wrote.
With NCAA rules, Linaker’s options for other institutions are now limited.
“I had a couple serious considerations before going to Penn State; I could transfer there, potentially. But the problem with the Big Ten is if you transfer within conference, you’re no longer allowed to have a scholarship there. So, to foot a $40,000 bill to go to school for one year is something, with my family of six, that we can’t really make ends meet when it comes to that.”
Now that he’s back home in Edmonton, Linaker is weighing all of his options for his hockey and academic future.
“I realistically would like to play in the NCAA somewhere. That doesn’t look like it’s going to be possible. So as of now, the U of A seems like a legitimate option,” he said. “Whatever’s best for my future is where I’d like to go.”
But, because Linaker didn’t play in the Western Hockey League, he doesn’t have a scholarship to play at the U of A.
“For the most part I would be paying my education for the next three years while playing there.”
Linaker could appeal Penn State’s decision, in hopes of getting his scholarship reimbursed. However, he still wouldn’t be able to play hockey with the University.
With files from Dean Millard, Global Sports.