A Kingston ice hockey star who has been playing the game since he was just seven-years-old is set to go to Kazakhstan next year with Team GB for the World University Games.
KU student Sam Cheema was chosen from over 200 students across the country to compete in ice hockey at the Universiade winter games.
“I was picked to represent team GB for ice hockey in Kazakhstan. It’s going to be fun. It’s a massive 12,000 person arena,” said Cheema.
The Universiade draws in over 2,500 competitors from more than 50 countries and is recognised as the second largest multi-sport games in the world after the Olympics.
The third year student spends his spare time living in New York, which means he missed the first two tryouts because he was not in the country.
Cheema managed to make the summer tryouts though, where he competed against 24 others for a place in the 22 person team.
Students from universities across the country, including Surrey and St Mary’s, make up the men’s ice hockey team.
The defender recently joined the Bracknell Hornets who he trains with up to three times a week, and plays games for at least twice a month.
“Right now ice hockey is my outlet, which is why I’m playing better than I’ve ever played. I get to use ice hockey as my downtime.
“It means I can have more fun with it, which means I play better because I’m able to let things go and stay level headed on the ice,” said Cheema.
The marketing and communication student flies out to compete on January 25, right in the midst of his hand-ins and deadlines.
The student is unsure if he will take his sporting passion further than the upcoming competition, but is confident it will be a constant in his life.
“It’s going to be in my future in a lot of ways. It allows me to be more self-aware, just take it for what it is and being just in the present moment. I think a lot of times in the past I’d be so fixated on games coming up.”
He was inspired to start his journey in the rink by the Disney film, Mighty Ducks. The film follows Emilio Esteves as Gordon Bombay, a drunk driver who is sentenced to coach hockey as part of his community service. Bombay, the ex-elite hockey star, trains the group of perennial losers to become star players.
The sport has taken over Cheema’s life, but he is still pursuing other career options for the sake of his future.
He is a part owner of ice hockey magazine SNIPETOWN, is in the process of writing a book, has set up an advertising agency in conjunction with Kingston University that exclusively employs Kingston students, and has created a hockey coaching business, all while finishing his final year of his degree.
Despite having a lot on his plate, Cheema does not plan to pay more attention on any particular project.
“I think everything grows organically. It’s great being 22, if I messed up in three years I’m still young. I’ll live until I’m 90 so who cares, I’m doing what I’m doing right now.”
The student likened himself to ice hockey star Sean Avery, who used modelling as his outlet.
“You have to have your downtime. You have to have something away from the rink. I have a good balance right now.”
Cheema hopes to do a masters at Kingston once he graduates, and complete a PhD after that, but his ultimate goal for now is to hold a Ted Talk.
He said: “I’ve been a local lad in Kingston forever but I think the business school is really good and there’s a lot of opportunities here, more opportunities than a lot of places. There’s a lot of outlets to choose from to express yourself.
“I pretty much want to be a thought leader of some right. I want to tap into peoples why. I just want to understand things.”