It was his grandmother’s fault.
Or at least, that is the story that is told in the Giles house when Patrick is asked about the origin of his love of hockey.
“I started playing when I was four because my grandmother [Shannon Hobbs] would take us to the outdoor rink,” explained Giles, who grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. “I started out just skating, pushing a cone around during free skate.
“One day, I saw some kids walking out with hockey bags and told her that is what I want to do. My brother and I kind of just picked it up from there and that is how it started.”
Ultimately, playing hockey ended up being an easy choice for him.
“It just felt right,” said Giles. “My dad was a big football player and so I watched his highlights. I was always into sports, even at a young age. Hockey is a little different — it is more physical. Ever since I started playing and being on the ice, I always had a good time.
“I played two years of football for my lower school. It was fun but eventually I had to pick and hockey was the one.”
Since hockey was his final pick, Giles found the perfect track and that was to play for the U.S. National Team Development Program. For the 6-foot-4, 186-pound forward, it was difficult leaving home at first. However, he had a great role model who helped fill him in on the ins and outs of the program and expectations.
“It was difficult transition at first,” said Giles. “I loved my high school and I loved my area. Obviously, leaving family is hard. I am friends with Graham McPhee [2014-16], who was here earlier. He told me it was a great place. Everyone is going through the same thing and you will fit right in. He really helped me take that step. It wasn’t too bad.”
He realizes now just how much the words of wisdom from McPhee mean to him.
“He was spot on with everything,” said Giles. “Everyone says it’s a grind and it’s hard and that is what he told me. He told me that everyone is going through the same thing and we are family here. That is exactly true.
“It was a transition going from playing with the [Baltimore] Skipjacks to playing here but it has been so beneficial. I’m so grateful that he gave me that advice.”
As the season has progressed, Giles has learned plenty about himself. He understands the importance of being able to prioritize in order to be successful, both on the ice and off the ice.
“I learned with all that I have going on, I have been able to push myself and be organized,” he stated. “I don’t have my mom looking out for me. She does what she can back in Maryland but it’s my responsibility to take care of myself. I have to be on time for everything and that was a big learning point this year.
“It’s all about prioritizing. You have to put the big things first — You go to school and you have to go to the rink. You have to sleep and eat. Social media and music and other stuff comes secondary. You really have to prioritize how much you want to do.”
Giles realizes just how much his game has grown since arriving in Plymouth this past August. He is finally figuring out how to keep up with his opponents.
“Playing in the USHL, it’s much faster and harder, especially in the corners where guys are faster and bigger,” explained Giles. “I have been told I need to work on playing a bigger game. Mentally, it’s faster and I think I have matured on the ice. I have been able to keep up with the pace and that is a big step for me.”
There is one drill in particular that Giles has discovered is especially beneficial for him.
“In practice, we do this drill in the corner called the ‘Tim Taylor Drill.’ It’s 2-on-2 small area games,” he said. “What is so great about USA Hockey is that they really worship those small area games. That definitely gets us better since this is how it is on the ice. It’s a tough drill. You are going hard every time you are in there. I wasn’t a big fan at first but I know it’s very beneficial.”
It should be no surprise that Giles was in awe the first time he walked into the USA locker room and saw the USA jerseys hanging up in the stalls.
“That is the stuff you see on the highlight reels of teams and the Olympic stuff. That is the stuff you dream about it and then, you walk in and it’s right in front of your face. It just hits you. I was pretty pumped up,” he said.
That patriotic feeling extends even further for Giles, especially when he hears “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“That is what you represent,” he stated. “You know what you represent when you see the flag and have the flag on your chest. It’s a great feeling when you have everyone behind you.”
That feeling will continue as Giles and his Under-17 teammates head out to the Czech Republic for their final international tournament of the season — the Under-17 Five Nations. Team USA will face Sweden (Feb. 8), Russia (Feb. 9), Finland (Feb. 11) and Czech Republic (Feb. 12). With four games in five days, Giles understands what they need to do to be successful.
“The biggest thing that Coach [Danton] Cole has stressed is getting better each game,” he explained. “We want to start strong and keep pushing. Teams are going to get tired and you are going to get tired but the most important thing is to keep pushing and get better each game.”
And that is something that will make his grandmother proud.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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