One’s passion for the sport of hockey can never be underestimated and that is certainly true of Ferris State University’s Aaron Lewicki.
Despite facing adversity during his lifetime, Lewicki has managed to overcome each and every obstacle while living his childhood dream of playing hockey.
To characterize the 22-year old’s life as a “roller coaster” ride with it’s equal share of ups and downs would be appropriate. Not only has Lewicki dealt with a physical condition since birth, but he lost his mother (Sue) in 2007 to lupus and kidney failure a couple of weeks before reporting to fall camp for his sophomore season. While some would let the misfortune consume them, Lewicki has taken the “high road” and is making the most of his abilities both athletically and academically.
“I owe a lot of thanks to the people at Ferris State, who were there for support when I needed it,” said Lewicki. “Life is precious and the loss of mom has made me a lot more focused on what I do. I’m committed to giving it my all each night I step out onto the ice.”
For giving his all, Lewicki was honored as the FSU Athletics Department’s 2008-09 Jimmy Swears Courage Award winner for perseverance and determination in overcoming a life-altering situation.
A native of Livonia, Mich., Lewicki has been able to maintain a solid balance in life despite the adversity. Born with scoliosis (curvature of the spine), Lewicki’s daily physical routine is unlike almost all others and having an understanding has been invaluable.
“The knowledge (about scoliosis) has helped me out tremendously,” explained Lewicki. “There’s more of a rhyme and reason to the type of exercises which I do, such as strengthening my lower back muscles and abdominals. I give a lot of credit to our (Ferris State) strength and conditioning coaches for helping me to gradually strengthen my back over the past few years in order to do many of the workouts which I couldn’t do in the past."
The strength gained by Lewicki has resulted in his best season ever in a Bulldog jersey to date. The FSU right winger has produced career-high numbers in almost every offensive category with a current team fifth-most 23 points on 12 goals and 11 assists in 38 contests. While his athletic exploits have been noteworthy, Lewicki relishes his numerous academic achievements which include being a three-time Ferris State CCHA Scholar-Athlete, twice a recipient of the team’s Scholar-Athlete Award, and the squad’s FSU President’s Academic Award winner for maintaining the team’s highest cumulative grade point average.
“Getting good grades has always been important to me and they mean a lot to my dad,” said Lewicki, a finance major. “I’m proud of these awards which I have received because of all the time and effort I devote to academics. It’s truly something special.”
Playing hockey has also been special for Lewicki since around the age of three when his father introduced him to the sport.
“My dad excelled in baseball as a pitcher and even had a tryout with the Cincinnati Reds,” Lewicki said. “However, he liked hockey better. I also wanted to be like Steve Yzerman and my hometown hero Mike Modano because of their skills, leadership, and loyalty displayed to their team.”
The path has taken Lewicki to the present where he has been a key component in the nationally eighth-ranked 2009-10 FSU team’s noteworthy 20-plus win season, which included a third-place finish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) regular-season standings. For Lewicki, the success achieved by the team in his final season as a Bulldog has been uplifting.
“The last couple of years, we as a team, were progressing mentally and physically,” said Lewicki. “But this season it’s all starting to come together. This has been a great senior year for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Lewicki’s “mind over matter” approach to life has earned the respect and admiration of not only his teammates, but the Ferris State coaching staff as well.
“If I was to design the ideal Ferris State hockey player, I would use Aaron as the model,” stated head coach Bob Daniels. “He’s an outstanding student and a tireless worker both on and off the ice.
“Aaron is one of our hardest workers everyday in practice and a leader in the lockerroom. I have never met anyone that knows Aaron from a teammate, classmate or professor who has ever had a bad word to say about him,” added Daniels.
A testament to Lewicki was given at the 2010 CCHA Awards Banquet when he graciously accepted the Terry Flanagan Memorial Award which honors a player for perseverance, dedication and courage while overcoming severe adversity.
His mother would be proud!