Jesse Schwartz was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. In high school he was recruited by South Kent Prep School in Connecticut where he spent his final two years studying and playing before graduation. After graduating, Jesse played junior hockey with the Victoria Grizzlies before earning a scholarship to the University of Connecticut, Storrs, to play for the Huskies.
Growing up in an athletic and highly competitive family, the Schwartz brothers played as many sports as they could; baseball, basketball, soccer, and as Jesse notes, there were many heated battles over the family ping-pong table in the basement. Despite being selected in the 2010 OHL Draft by the Erie Otters, Schwartz chose to pursue an education at UCONN in the NCAA’s Hockey East, where he played four seasons for head coach, Mike Cavanaugh, while earning a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management. Following his senior year, Jesse Schwartz played a season with Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs in the SPHL and saw a two-game stint in the ECHL with the Brampton Beast. He has now turned his focus to coaching and skill/skating development and has been working with former Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick and AHL veteran Adam Henrich, teaching youth camps and coaching clinics in Toronto and Shanghai.
What do you love most about the hockey industry?
Hockey feels like second nature to me. I grew up playing the game, watching the game, almost as if it’s in my DNA. When I first picked up my hockey stick and started playing, it was as if I instinctively knew exactly what to do without even thinking. I love hockey because it’s a team sport versus a one-man sport, meaning you win or lose a game based on every player’s contribution: every player has a role and every player is important. Being a team sport encourages people to lead, to listen, to communicate and co-operate, hopefully resulting in wins and good plays.
You’ve recently been working with Henrich Hockey at camps and clinics all over the world, including a trip to China. How have you enjoyed the transition to coaching and what motivates you to teach the game to this next generation?
Now that I’m a coach, I like being able to share whatever skills I’ve learned and to be able to help the up and coming players maximize their potential. I’ve enjoyed the transition to coaching a lot. Obviously, it’s given me a way to be able to pass on all the knowledge that I’ve attained, through all my mentors and coaches, and be able to share my knowledge, skills, and experiences with my students. I’m anxious to help them reach the goals that they’ve set for themselves.
How do you motivate others?
I think just by being myself. I try to help these players understand and truly believe that with hard work and dedication, they can reach their maximum potential.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
I think naturally you look at some of the top players in the NHL, like (Sidney) Crosby. He’s Canadian, he obviously was a skilled player, but more importantly he was a hard worker and dedicated his entire life to hockey. Everything comes very easy to him now; it certainly wasn’t easy for him growing up. He’s just an example of somebody I look up to.
Also, the coaches I had growing up had a big influence on me and were great role models for me. They helped me not only on the ice, but off the ice. As well, many were instrumental in my growth as a man. I try to always be a good role model for my players now, as I know how much of a difference a good coach makes in a young player’s life.
Selected by the Erie Otters in the 2010 OHL draft, you decided to head south and play college hockey. What suggestions do you have for Canadian kids looking to earn a scholarship in the NCAA?
I would let them know that the OHL is not the only route to succeeding in hockey. If you want to get an education and have an unforgettable four years, I would highly recommend playing in the NCAA. There’s a lot of great hockey there.
Prepare yourself by studying and writing the SAT’s, and thinking about which hockey college might be suitable for you, and then keep getting better and better in hockey so that you are looked at as a great hockey player AND a good student, and you’ll have the best chance to achieve your goal of NCAA.
You played 4 years for the Huskies at the University of Connecticut and were very involved in the community during your time in Storrs. What are some of the standout memories from those outreach projects?
One of the outreach projects that I really enjoyed being a part of was when our team adopted a young boy with cancer, named Camden. Our responsibility was to make him feel like a part of our team and include him in a lot of our activities. He loved it so much and considered all the players on the team his friends.
If you could go back and talk to a 16-year old Jesse Schwartz, what advice would you have for him?
You’re on the right track with a good head on your shoulders, just be prepared for anything that comes your way.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I’m more focused on the now rather than 5 years down the road, but I hope by that time I’m continuing to try and move closer to reaching my own maximum potential. I would like to be able to build on the knowledge I’ve obtained through my education at UCONN and my work experience, and ultimately be successful in whatever field I’m in.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten and who did it come from?
If we’re talking about family values, it’s “Schwartz’s never give up.” So, when times are tough, we keep pushing and find the light at the end of the tunnel.
You’re 25 years old with big plans for the future, but what has been your biggest
accomplishment to date?
I think just being a good grandson, son, brother and cousin. Also being named to the Hockey East All-Academic hockey team at Connecticut was definitely an accomplishment for me.
Outside of hockey, what defines you as a person?
I’d say my family values and the respect that I have for all of my family and friends. All of the values my parents have taught me through honesty, work ethic, loyalty, and empathy towards others really define me as a person.