Photo by Rena Laverty
As athletes, there are sacrifices that are made between the time spent on the road, the hours of training and everything in between. But when it comes down to it, the rewards of these decisions make everything worth it.
Along with the decisions he has made for himself, Isaac Howard credits much of his success to the sacrifices that his family has made for him as well.
“My family has had a huge impact on my career, especially my parents, just driving me everywhere and doing everything for me,” said Howard. “My brothers have definitely made sacrifices for me along the way to, but they’ve always been there.”
Of the many lessons he has learned from his family throughout his career, the one that continues to stick with him every day is staying humble and always being thankful for the position he is in.
With one year down and one more to go with the NTDP, Howard looks to take advantage of every opportunity thrown his way.
“To be grateful for it. To be grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given. To make sure that I cherish every single moment and to stick with it always, even during the hard times.”
As a member of the Under-17 team, he was able to spend time playing with the Under-18s throughout the year as well as being called up to compete at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship in Frisco, Texas.
For Howard, being given these chances to prove himself as a player means everything as it continues to help build his game and his spirit. Even so, for the Wisconsin native, he understands that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
“It brings a lot of confidence to my game but you also have to be able to handle that well. You can’t be overly confident, but rather just have to continue to play my game, but those moments definitely help build my confidence,” explained Howard.
Throughout Howard’s career there have been many unforgettable memories, both on and off the ice, from back-to-back hat-tricks plus the game-winning goal against Canada at the 2020 Youth Olympics, to committing to the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Beyond these career milestones, Howard has embraced all the hard work and moments that have led him to his present success.
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“Outside of the bigger moments, I would have to say nationals playing with Shattuck. That was fun, a great time and I learned a lot with them,” said Howard. “I would also say WSI with the Minnesota Blades team. Those are fun tournaments that I remember that have helped build my game.”
In the 51 games competed in this year, Howard played a major role in all aspects as he finished his Under-17 season with 32 goals and 41 assists for 73 points, leading the U17s in all categories.
While proving to be a threatening presence on the ice, it’s become such a special feeling for Howard knowing all the dedication and hard work he has put in is coming together.
“It feels great and it really makes it feel like it was all worth it. It’s a good feeling and definitely again something not to be taken for granted.”
There is now more than ever a desire for excellence for Howard and his NTDP teammates with the hopes of a more normal season and even potential for more international-level competition.
As he begins to look ahead at next season, Howard continues to be optimistic about the success he knows his team is capable of.
“It motivates me because I know there is still so much to be done. It motivates because I know there is a lot of open space that still needs to be filled that we can go and attack.”
Photo by Rena Laverty