Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story listed London Hoilett as playing on defence for the Calgary Hitmen. Hoilett is a forward. We regret the error.
You might know London Hoilett as the Calgary Hitmen forward who scored this year’s teddy bear toss goal.
The rookie is quickly becoming a fan favourite after making the Western Hockey League team as an undrafted free agent.
Hoilett admits it was a risk packing his bags and travelling to Calgary from Winnipeg for a tryout with his NCAA eligibility at stake, but it was one he had to take.
“I kind of took that to heart,” he said.
“I thought, you know, I’m gonna bet on myself. It was, at the end of the day, the right choice to make.”
“Day after day, you couldn’t help but notice his work ethic, his productivity,” Hitmen head coach Steve Hamilton says. “You couldn’t ignore how well he was doing.
“It’s not an easy journey. He was off the radar — so to speak — in terms of the (WHL) draft. He 100 per cent did that on his own.”
But Hoilett’s talent off the ice is also worth recognizing.
He has converted his billet parent’s garage into a makeshift studio as he prepares to release his debut album Can’t Sit Still early in the new year.
Hoilett says music has been a lifelong love, along with sports.
“Me and my dad, every single morning on the way to daycare, I’d have him play Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” like, four times,” he says. “I’m sure he hated it. I loved it. It was awesome.”
Hoilett started rapping, singing and producing music on his phone when he was in Grade 8. He quickly upgraded to a proper microphone and mixing equipment.
“It was fun to find my way through music. I ended up getting a job and buying some equipment and learning how to use it. It’s cool to see where exactly I started from and how far I think I’ve come now.”
With more experience came more opportunities.
Hoilett honed his craft by performing at local parties and collaborating with other artists and producers in the Winnipeg music scene.
As he’s grown up, the 17-year-old’s songs have provided a powerful outlet in difficult times.
“I like to draw on personal experiences and how I’m feeling in a certain moment,” Hoilett says.
“It’s pretty good for my mental health too, because me and my family have been through quite a bit with my dad passing.”
Trevor Hoilett, a former Winnipeg Blue Bomber, passed away suddenly in February 2020, leaving London, his mom Tracy and siblings Mia and Jalen to carry on his memory.
While Trevor didn’t get to see his son battle onto a WHL roster, score an unforgettable goal or put the finishing touches on his first album, London remembers the lessons he taught him and thinks he would be the first one to cheer him on.
“He was a very, very funny guy,” Hoilett says. “I’m sure he’d say something humorous.
“I’d like to think he’d say he’s proud of me and he always knew I could do it.”
Hoilett’s mom and sister were on hand to witness his teddy bear triggering goal this season.
Standing on the ice and waving up at them as the toys rained down remains one of the most cherished memories of his young career.
Hoilett hopes his album mirrors the ups and downs of life through slow-tempo, vibey tracks and more upbeat songs.
“I’ve got a lot to showcase,” he says. “Versatility, lyrical ability and singing. I’m getting better at singing so I’m excited to show it off.”
Can’t Sit Still drops on all streaming platforms on Jan. 10.