C.J. Suess is in the midst of preparing for his fourth season as a member of the Manitoba Moose.
He was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 2014 after playing four years of college hockey with Minnesota State.
As a player of colour, the 26-year-old is looking back on past experiences throughout his career.
“There was some odd experiences when I was a kid. I’m not going to get into detail but I’m just saying that it was there.
“If they knew what they were doing wrong, I feel it would’ve been a night-and-day difference.”
The St. Paul native says the education surrounding racism in general — not just in hockey — has come a long way since his own minor hockey days.
“As I’ve gotten older, those instances kind of phase out of the game. I think it’s as people grow older they grow wiser and they realize the difference between what’s right and wrong,” he said.
“I think it relies more on parenting and educating your kids on what’s right and wrong so they learn at an early age to be inclusive, not to judge and be prejudiced.”
On top of education and awareness, Suess says a little inspiration can go a long way.
“It’s always good to have a role model that’s maybe been through the same experiences as you have,”
“I always looked up to Jarome Iginla when I was younger as a player of colour, just the way he played and carried himself. I really loved how hard he played and just the way he went about the game.”
Suess will look to continue being an example for young players of colour when the Moose hit the ice for regular-season action in the coming weeks.