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SISU, which is of Finnish origin, is an immensely powerful concept that is an integral part of their culture.  This word does not translate very well in other languages, but its meaning and significance is crystal clear. SISU is the inner strength required to overcome any type of challenge and adversity you may be facing. In other words, it is synonymous with determination, resilience, courage, and perseverance. Our mission at Living SISU is therefore to create a community of people around the globe who believe in the values and lifestyle that it represents. A challenging 2020 calendar year motivated us to highlight the SISU heroes among us. They are athletes who, in our opinion, have shown a tremendous ability to overcome certain challenges and get out of their comfort zone in their sport and/or in their lives.

For the month of January 2021, Vincent Vitale, a 13-year-old hockey goalkeeper, was named the SISU Hero! 

Vincent, 13 years old, is currently suiting up for the Diabolos M13 at Lucille-Teasdale High School in Blainville, QC. Vinny Vegas, his pretty legendary nickname, started playing hockey at the age of 4. Despite the desire to become a goalkeeper, he did not start minding the net until he was 7.

To better understand the position, Vinny enjoyed imitating Carey Price during the Montreal Canadien’s games as he was fully dressed in his equipment. The first test for Vinny had to face was to move from Las Vegas to Quebec. Not only did he have to adjust to bigger nets, but he also quickly realized pucks were heavier than he was used to as a younger goalie. Quebec offered much higher end competition than Vegas, being an environment where everyone plays the sport. It was a shock for him to see such superior play, which was an adjustment, for sure.  On top of all that, he had to learn French and make new friends, talk about change and having to face adversity in your first experience on Canadian soil!

Vincent trains regularly with his goalkeeping coaches at Paramount Hockey, who are also partners with Living SISU. According to his coaches, he is an outstanding athlete, and it has also been noted that his maturity helps him read plays better than most. Coaches also like that he always has a smile on his face, despite the physical and mental challenges he encounters during training. Vincent is often compared to Marc-André Fleury, star goalkeeper of the Vegas Golden Knights. At an early age, he learned what inner strength was. He once confided in his goalie coaches about an anecdote that illustrates his inner-strength and character:

“In my first season in the Atom AA category, I managed to make the team with a broken finger (first time I tell anyone!) and I didn’t want anyone to know so I wouldn’t get off the team. I managed to hide it well and I made the team. We even won the regular season championship and the playoffs in a 3-2 win over Saint Eustache.

Vinny’s determination is remarkable and inspiring. His coach at Paramount Hockey, Olivier Gervais, noted that he had rarely seen a young person of his age invest so much in the work to have success, while also having fun out on the ice. He sees in him excellent potential for the future, not only on the ice, but off the ice as well. Vinny demonstrates great perseverance in his schoolwork as well as in his everyday life.

Vinny is a SISU Hero. Do not let his age fool you into thinking he cannot lead by example and show the rest of society what overcoming adversity and challenges look like, all while enjoying the process.

Congratulations Vinny! Way to go!

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