Norway Bay June 20, 2021
Residents of Norway Bay might be familiar with the sight of 16-year-old Taylor Bothwell skating on the Ottawa River alongside friends and family.
For Taylor, the ice feels like a second home. If the weather allows it, he may even spend more time on the ice than in his house. A love for and dedication to the game helps motivate him to practice for hours on end.
That dedication to and love of hockey seems to have paid off. Earlier this month, Taylor was drafted to the OHL by the Peterborough Petes in the ninth round, 165th overall. In September, he’ll be going up to the team’s training camp.
“Since I was a young kid – around the age of 10 or 11 – I really started to imagine myself playing on the ice while watching players like Brock McGinn, Bertuzzi and McFadden – and all those players,” said Taylor. “And now that I’m able to be drafted by the Petes and possibly be playing in the OHL next year, it’s astounding.”
Taylor first stepped onto the ice around the age of three, after his father built a rink in the backyard of their Guelph home. In the next few years, he would play house league until he joined the world of competitive hockey at the age of seven.
“And then I never looked back, just kept playing,” he said.
To Taylor’s father, Tom, Taylor’s love of the game was apparent from a young age. Taylor and his younger brother Tanner would spend hours on end practicing, working out and improving their game. Even in the summer, when the weather was 30 degrees and his friends would be swimming and relaxing, Taylor would be on the ice.
Taylor’s commitment to improving comes not only from a love of the game, but also out of an appreciation for what he’s gotten out of it. He says he often talks with many of his past teammates, whom he considers to be close friends.
“I think hockey just brings people together,” said Taylor. “The amount of friendships I’ve made and people I’ve met – coaches, best friends – you can’t take that away.”
Though the Bothwell’s home is in Guelph, they spend much of their time at their cottage in Norway Bay. They have as much love for the region as they do for hockey, perhaps because both had a major presence throughout Taylor’s upbringing, as well as Tom’s.
Taylor’s grandparents and uncle both have cottages in the area, and they have various other family members littered throughout the region. When they have the opportunity, the Bothwell’s like to go up to spend time with their friends and family in the community.
“We just love it up there, the place is something special,” said Tom. “When we’re not there, we’re thinking about it.”
But just because they’re not at home, it doesn’t mean Taylor stops training. He often practices however he can, whether by running on trails, exercising outdoors or setting up a rink on the Ottawa River for him and his friends to play on.
“We all push around the snow when we build a rink, and we play out there from dawn to dark,” said Taylor.
Taylor and Tanner’s hockey doesn’t let them sit in place for too long, as they often have to travel to Toronto, Brampton, Oakville and various other places. The family has even gone as far as Buffalo for the boys to play in tournaments.
Tom recalls a time at the cottage, when he drove Taylor to Arnprior on his snow mobile. They crossed the Ottawa River with Taylor’s equipment strapped behind them.
“It’s probably one of the most Canadian things you can see,” said Tom.
It’s not just Taylor, athletic talent seems to run in the family. His grandfather, Bob, played as a goalie until he was 68. His grandmother Pam won the Ontario Masters Championship for seniors curling in 2008.
Taylor’s aunt, Nancy McCredie, won three gold medals for shot put and discus at the 1963 and 1967 Pan American Games. She even participated in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where she ranked 7th for shot put and 15th in discus.
Taylor wants to go as far as he can in hockey, but recognizes that there is a long way to go. He recognizes that playing in the OHL means bringing his game to the next level and playing with those who are years older than him.
He’s confident however, that with the same dedication and work ethic that has brought him this far, he can learn to play with the speed and intensity that the game demands.
“It’s astounding, it’s crazy to think I’ve made it this far, but there’s still a lot of work to go,” said Taylor. But he’s confident that with some training, he’ll do well. “Especially after this summer, I think I’m going to be ready.”
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