Ted Nolan was raised on the Garden River Reserve outside of Sault Ste. Marie, where he currently lives with his wife Sandy, and their two young sons. His career as a professional hockey player and as head coach of a North American championship junior league hockey team, have provided him with the opportunity to be both an inspiration and role model for Aboriginal youth throughout Canada.
Mr. Nolan began his career in hockey as a member of the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds in 1976. In 1978, he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, and played for the National Hockey League Team as well as the Adirondak Red Wings and the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, before being recruited by the Pittsburg Penguins in 1985. He played 78 games with the Penguins before he was injured and forced to retire in 1986. He returned to the Soo Greyhounds, a Junior A Team, as Assistant Coach, then as Head Coach in 1987. While there were those who were doubtful of his ability to coach, Mr. Nolan took the team from the league’s cellar in his first year, to three consecutive visits to the Memorial Cup, which they won in 1993.
In 1986, he was chosen as a role model in the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program. His commitment to motivating Aboriginal youth to stay in school and off drugs is equal to his commitment to his career in hockey. In 1989, Mr. Nolan started the Ted Nolan Anishnawbe Hockey School, and since then, has conducted summer training camps for Aboriginal youth.
Besides being a home-town hero in Sault Ste. Marie, where he was chosen the Kiwanis Citizen of the year in 1991, he is an active member of the Garden River Reserve and the Aboriginal community in Ontario. Mr. Nolan, who is Ojibway, serves on the Garden River Reserve Council, and is involved in the Anishinabek Career Centre.
Although he is known widely for his achievements in professional and junior hockey, it is the thousands of Aboriginal youth that he speaks to every year about self-esteem, motivation and the need to draw upon their heritage for strength, who are also winners in Ted Nolan’s life.