Jermaine's journey: How Jermaine Loewen became the first Jamaican selected in the NHL draft

No one has had a journey like Jermaine Loewen's.

Not even close.

Born in Jamaica and given up by his birth parents at just a year old, Loewen lived in a children’s home.

“When you're a young kid, it's hard to process, you live through everything and you’re oblivious,” said Loewen, who became the first Jamaican-born player to be taken the NHL draft when the Stars picked him in the 7th round.

In 2004, when he was just five years old, Hurricane Ivan decimated Jamaica, including Loewen's home.

“Our roof came off the home and we had tarps over it to keep the rain off.”

A group of Canadians traveled to help with the relief effort. One couple returned home, with Loewen, adopting him. His new home was a small town outside of Winnipeg, offering experiences he'd never had before. 

“I saw my first snowfall,” said Loewen. “I put my tongue out and let the snowflakes fall on my tongue. It was a surreal feeling.”

Months later, he strapped on ice skates for the first time and played pond hockey. Compared with his new friends, Jermaine's hockey development was quite late. There was something else that made growing up challenging: Jermaine was often the only kid on his hockey teams who wasn't white. And while he felt different, it helped him develop a personal creed.

“Just stay true to myself. Got to be real to myself and be a fun-loving guy and make sure I respect everyone I meet.”

Jermaine's unforeseen hockey ability got him to the junior level. But in his first year, he never scored a point. He kept at it, and padded his stats in no time.

“The mental toughness was crazy. A lot of kids would've just said ‘I'm done.’ I try to keep believing in myself.”

It was enough for the stars to take a chance on him, in the 7th round of the draft.

“I cried. I was so happy that I got that opportunity, said Loewen. “Acknowledge my abilities and the gifts I have even though I don't always do the right thing.”

The Stars are currently holding a developmental camp for their young players this week, which includes Loewen and the other picks from this year’s draft. The Jamaica native is getting some attention.

“Two years ago I got the chance to practice with him,” said Patrick Beverley, the Stars’ player development coordinator. “He's come a long way.”

Loewen won't be playing for the Stars right away. He'll have to work up from the smaller leagues. But when it comes to Dallas, unlike his teammates, his childhood prepared him for that North Texas heat.

“This is great. I’m going to get a little darker. Get more vitamin D and C, so that's how I approach it and don't listen to their whining about that.”

 

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