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Osman brings a unique background to LSSU hockey
Jan. 2, 2004
By Lindsey Mechalik, LSSU Sports Information Intern
Friendship and family are two words that many of the members of the Lake Superior hockey team use to describe their tightly-knit team. To Laker freshman Dominic Osman, tolerance and understanding of his religion go hand-in-hand with his close relationship with his teammates.
Osman's Muslim religion brings just one of the many unique backgrounds to the Lakers.
"The guys respect my religion," Osman said. "Growing up in Dearborn, there were a lot of Muslims. Before the start of the season, I was a little nervous and concerned about how they would react, but my teammates are really supportive of me. They understand, and a few of the guys even try and help me stay on track and keep focused on what is right. Some of the guys are curious and ask questions that I try and answer as best as I can."
Osman lives in Brady Hall with all of the other freshmen hockey players. Before the start of the school year, Osman was a little apprehensive about how his roommate would possibly react to his religious beliefs.
"I am thankful for my roommate, Matt Restoule, and how he has adapted to my religion," Osman said. "I am sure that any other of my teammates would have done the same. But I really appreciate how respectful he is towards it. I like it when he, along with my other teammates, asks questions about it because it makes me feel good to know I am helping them understand my religion. They are all very open-minded."
The Lakers pride themselves on their closeness. They help each other get through the good and bad times. It would be hard to find a better group of friends.
"The best part of our team is the guys," Osman said. "I have never felt closer to a group of guys than I have since I have been here. We are always close and everyone loves each other. I know everyone would do a lot for each other. I think every guy would be willing to sacrifice his own body or something really important for any other guy on the team. I know I would. I have enough confidence in my teammates to look at someone, no matter who it was, from my teammates to our trainers, and know we would do anything for each other. I think the best part is knowing if you make a mistake someone is going to be there to back it up. It's a great feeling to know that you have 28 other brothers on the team and in life."
Osman and freshman Trent Campbell lead the Lakers in scoring with 12 points each. In 16 games, Osman has registered seven goals and five assists. Osman's hockey talent was almost left undiscovered when he quit hockey at the age of 13 following a family tragedy.
At that time, Osman's father died suddenly and unexpectedly at a young age. After his father's death, Osman lost his drive to play hockey.
"When my dad died I wouldn't accept it," Osman said. "I struggled with everything in my life. He had taken me to hockey practice every day and to all of my games. I couldn't handle everything so I quit playing hockey. One day I was at the rink skating around with my friends. I saw an old friend of my dad's who knew how much my dad loved to watch me play hockey. He also knew how much I used to love the game. He realized that I needed some direction in my life and asked me to think about playing hockey in the house leagues. Even though my mom was pretty hesitant about it, I decided to give it a shot. It was really hard my first few games when I didn't see my father in the stands, but then I realized that no matter what he would always be there. To this day I would really like to thank Officer Thompson for helping me to put my life back on track. Because of him, I started to work on getting my grades up and I was able to graduate. I will always be thankful for that day."
Another aspect of Osman's life that he put on hold after his father's death was his religion. Unlike hockey, it took him longer to find his way back to the right path.
"After my father passed away, I swayed from my religion for a while," Osman said. "This summer I started to realize that I am growing up. I am almost 22 years old and I really should start setting a base for myself. Now is as good of time as any, and it helps me to stay focused with my hockey."
Osman followed the religious beliefs of his father. His mother practices the Catholic faith. Despite religious differences, the Osman family refuses to let anything affect their relationships.
"My mother and I respect each other's religions," Osman said. "They really aren't that different. I went to an Arabic school up until junior high. Then I went to a catholic school during my first year of high school and didn't feel comfortable, so I changed schools. No matter what religion each member of my family is, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that we all love each other and respect each other's choices."
Osman's father, Kamel, continues to make a large impact on his life.
"I try and be just like my dad and ask myself what he would do in situations," Osman said. "He was a real people person, and I think I am the same way. He has a huge impact on my life and did a lot for me. I could never thank him enough for it. It would be really nice to succeed to give him that. I try and make him happy and make him proud. I try and follow in his footsteps because he was such a great man."
The family has learned to love hockey, primarily because of Osman's passion for the game.
"My dad always loved hockey but never really got to play on a team," Osman said. "He used to take my mom's brothers out. He would strap pillows on my uncle Dave's legs, and they would blast shots at him. My mom really wasn't a fan of hockey until I started playing. Now every once in a while I will call my mom and she will shock me by saying she is sitting there watching a game."
Uncle Dave now travels up to Sault Ste. Marie for every home series and tries to make it to most road games.
"My uncle has always been about his nieces and nephews," Osman said. "When my cousin, Maria, played softball, he went to all of her games. He went to all of my sister's. He loves to come and watch us play. He is really close to me. It is amazing the support I get from my family. All my decisions that I make, my family is behind me 100 percent. Even though I have made some wrong decisions at times, they took it and said I screwed up and helped me to realize that I needed to get back into it and fix it. My mom supported me even when I wasn't going to school. Her dream has always been for me to get an education. Every second she believed that I would make it, and she still does. She is a big part of why I work as hard as I do. I want to give back to my family what they have given to me."
Osman's family also includes a sister, Michelle, and brother, Mike, three nieces and nephews, and two close cousins on his father's side of the family.
Osman played junior B hockey for the Metro Jets, then moved up to the junior A Lansing Capital Pride. He also played in Cleveland before joining the Soo Indians.
"When I moved to Cleveland I entered into a situation that was once again not very good for me," Osman said. "I didn't fit in at all and I realized I needed to find a place where I would. I was granted a release from the team and really didn't know where I was going to go from there. I remembered back when I came up to Sault Ste. Marie to play the Indians in play-offs. I liked the atmosphere and how much history was in this town. It really opened my eyes, and I realized that I wanted to get serious about hockey. I finally found a team that I fit in well with.
"(After joining the Soo Indians), Everything just started click and go right. I finally realized that I needed to do something about going to school. It took my coach and me a few months to figure out where I stood because my grade point coming out of high school was awful. At that time I had not even taken my ACTs. With my grades there was no way I was going to pass the NCAA Clearinghouse. My second year with the Indians I had to go to school at Lake State full time. I had to work really hard to get good grades to make up for high school. At that time I decided that I wanted to try and walk on the Lakers' hockey team, and luckily everything worked out. I am really thankful for Coach Anzalone and Bill Crawford for helping me to understand what it was I needed to do to be able to play college hockey."
A common misconception for young athletes is that their sport will take them where they want to go in life. Many don't realize how crucial it is for them to keep their grades up so they can make the next step to college athletics. Osman had to learn the hard way and hopes that others will not make his same mistakes.
"Going through high school I thought hockey was all I needed," Osman said. "I realized that the best advice is what everyone says: that you have to stay in school and keep your grades up. It will make life a lot easier. Even if hockey falls through there is always something to fall back on. In the end it is just a matter of how hard you work to get there. The route I took to get here was really tough. It is really hard to go to school and play junior hockey. I am thankful for my professors who helped me out a lot. My first year here, when I was playing for the Indians, I was struggling in a math class and luckily I had a teacher who was willing to help. I was in his office almost every day and he really helped me to work to pass the class. No one should take the route that I did. Obviously I am happy with how everything has turned out, but I would have much rather taken the easier way. The way I got here was like a roller-coaster ride, and it was really emotional.
"I love every bit of living in Sault Ste. Marie. I am not the type of person that likes the warm weather. Summers drive me crazy. The people here are amazing. They are always there supporting us. It's a hockey town and they thrive on that, and live and die with the Lakers and the Indians. It is a really amazing feeling to be part of something so historical. I have always felt comfortable here. The people up here will help out with anything. I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up living here when I am older."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey