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Sometimes an athlete can be his own worst enemy

'You can be your own worst enemy as an athlete' - Derrek Coccimiglio
Photo courtesy Red Bull Crashed Ice

He grew up playing hockey locally but it’s another sport that has Sault Ste. Marie’s Derrek Coccimiglio’s attention these days.

A firefighter locally, Coccimiglio has been a part of the Red Bull Crashed Ice series for seven years and has called it an eye-opening experience.

In an interview with SooToday in the spring, Coccimiglio said the experience of being a part of the series is an interesting experience.

“Everyone is so used to seeing a flat ice surface for people skating on it. These ice tracks that are going through the heart of major cities across Europe and North America. It’s wild to see it.

“You see it on tv and it opens a lot of eyes,” Coccimiglio said. “But to go to a city and see it in front of you, it takes you back.”

SooToday recently spoke with Coccimiglio, to discuss a variety of topics for our latest Q&A.

Q: What is your first sports memory?

A: I can still remember my first goal in hockey. It was at the Pee Wee. It was a breakaway, I scored, and my dad ended up picking up one of the mounted puck trophies. I vividly remember it. I scored, my hands went up and my dad was along the glass.

Q: What other sports are you interested in that people wouldn’t expect?

A: I haven’t done it recently, but I’ve been pretty heavily involved in Firefit. I’ve done that for quite a few years.

I grew up playing soccer in the summer months. I did one or two seasons of football at St. Basil. I didn’t know much about it but they had me at cornerback and I think I did pretty well.

I’ve been involved with many sports. You name it, I would do it. Anything athletic is fun.

Q: Who are three people, dead or alive, that you would like to have dinner with and why?

A: Robin Williams. I’ve always thought he was the funniest. Nobody made me laugh more than that guy. Sylvester Stallone. I’ve always looked up to him. I’ve enjoyed his movies. Rocky was probably watched monthly growing up. It kind of gave me the inspiration to work out and be athletic. His overall story is pretty cool too. How he started with nothing and now he’s one of the biggest actors in the world. Jason Statham would be neat to sit down and have a drink with. He’s a pretty motivated individual.

Q: What non-sports career are you interested in and why?

A: I applied to go to culinary school. I applied to a couple of colleges back than. That was something I was interested in doing at the time. I also grew up swinging a hammer and been around the construction world. I’ve always enjoyed doing that stuff too. Those are both something that not a lot of people might know. I worked alongside a carpenter for a bit when I got out of college with a buddy of mine and learned some things. My family has always been involved in that. Both are pretty neat to me. I would probably be doing one of those if I wasn’t a fireman.

Q: What person, living or dead, do you admire most and why?

A: Probably both of my grandfathers. One is passed away and my dad’s father is still alive. They both taught me so much in different ways. My Nono, I don’t think he’s missed one of my hockey games. He’s always been there for me no matter what. And my other grandfather was just such a caring individual. I looked up to that and how he presented himself. I learned so much from both of them to be the man I am today.

Q: If you could be the commissioner for a day, what changes would you make to the sport?

A: If they could come up with a system to race where the heat is, I think I’d like to change that. We’re racing in some cold climates and it’s hard to get warmed up and get moving. If that could be created, that would be something I would enjoy. Racing in the desert on an ice track. It would be great.

Q: What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned?

A: I’ve learned that you can be your own worst enemy as an athlete. It takes some time to overcome that kind of stuff, like all of the mental obstacles as an athlete. It’s important to recognize them and to learn about yourself and what works and what doesn’t work.

Q: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?

A: I’m pretty involved with my family. I’m very close with my grandparents and I try to spend a lot of time with them. I enjoy their company and I know they enjoy mine. Family is very important to me. A lot of people probably see me as a pretty serious dude but that’s what I enjoy doing.

Q: If you could have any super power, what would it be?

A: Being able to fly. That would be it. I like to travel so it would be nice just to be my own pilot. Just pick my stuff up and go.

Q: If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you bring with you?

A: I would bring a lighter. You need fire. I’d bring my Bose because you have to have music to be able to do something during the day. Probably a knife or a multi-tool. I would be entertained, I could eat with the heat and if I need a tool to do anything I would be good to go.