James van Riemsdyk, 6-foot-3, left winger for the Toronto Maple Leafs is off to represent his country in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The 23-year-old professional hockey player has shined as a Maple Leaf using his self-proclaimed biggest strengths on the ice – his skating and hockey sense.
James van Riemsdyk is not just about the glitz and glam of the hockey world, he is using his star power to help spread the word about great causes and raise money for charity. Most recently, he went head-to-head against Scott Hartnell to raise money for Hurricane Sandy Relief, and has also supported the You Can Play Project (@YouCanPlayTeam).
1. How did you get into playing hockey and what has inspired you to keep playing?
When I was younger my Dad always had hockey games on and always had me watching these hockey tapes when I was younger so that’s how I got started.
2. If you weren’t playing hockey for a living, what would you be doing?
That’s always a good one, I declared a business major before I left University of New Hampshire so maybe something in that, but I always enjoyed stuff in other sports so I’m sure I would try to do something in another sport, tennis football or stuff like that.
3. What is the biggest difference between playing for the Philadelphia Flyers to playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
I think the biggest difference is just the passion in Toronto is magnified to a whole other level, you can be walking up the street to get an ice cream or something and people know exactly who you are that part of it is a little bit different compared to Philadelphia where you blend in a little bit more.
4. Since we know you and Colin Wilson are buddies, who is the biggest prankster between the two of you, and tell us a prank that you’ve pulled on him.
We both like to get stuff going and get under each other’s skin a little bit, but I don’t think I would pick one of us as being better than the other at that. I think our best one we’ve pulled was when we played together in Ann Arbor we did these things called “leaners”. This is where you put a little garbage can filled with water inside a door and you knock on the door, they open the door and it spills on their feet. Well, we ended up taking this to a whole other level and we filled a huge 4 foot tall by 3 feet across garbage can to guys on our team and the room got flooded, lots of damages at the hotel. We ended up having to help foot the bill for that, so that was probably one of our better pranks back in the day.
5. A lot of guys call you “Reemer” for short, can you tell us how you got that nickname?
It started my freshman year in high school; the goalie on the team didn’t really know who to pronounce my name so I kind of got dubbed “Reemer” and it stuck ever since. I think my brother has even picked up the same nickname from a similar situation so it’s funny how it keeps getting passed along.
6. What is the story behind your hockey number for the Leafs #21?
I wore #21 because I was a big Peter Forsberg fan growing up, and that’s pretty much why I wear it. I liked him a lot growing up and watching him play.
7. What is the hardest thing about being a professional athlete?
I wouldn’t say this is the hardest thing but its’ something that I don’t think a lot of people realize is the time commitment that it is; it’s not just during the season. It’s pretty much a 24-hour a day, 365 day a year type of job. You always have to be taking care of your body and making sure you’re getting the nutrition and the rest so that you can perform at a high level. It’s not just the glitz and glam that it can be made out to be at times.
8. In three words, how would Colin Wilson and Colby Cohen describe you?
That’s a good one; I think they think I’m a little mischievous a little bit. I’m a quieter guy and keep to myself but I let my hair down around those guys, they are two of my closer buddies. Clever, mischievous and witty.
9. Do you get nervous before games and what is your pregame ritual?
I wouldn’t say nervous I get more excited to play out there; some games are bigger than others and you get that little bit of butterfly sometimes. As far as rituals, I don’t really have any rituals per say, but I like to do the same routine every game. Whether it be eat the meal at the same time, nap at the same time and do the same warm up every game, I don’t know if that is necessary a ritual but I like to do the same thing every time.
10. If you were stranded on a deserted island who would you want to be there with?
Just one person? I’m going to have to think about that, but I am going to have to go with my celebrity crush who’s been Aimee Teegarden from Friday Night Lights so maybe I’ll go with her.
11. What advice would you give to any new hockey player wanting to play the sport professionally?
I say the key is just to have fun with it, and I think if you’re having fun with it you kind of want to put more time in to get better. The more you enjoy it the more you are going to want to pursue it.
12. What are five things you can’t live without?
My iPhone, Xbox, MacBook, Chipotle and I guess will throw hockey in there. I’ll be a hockey nerd.
13. What player would you go with Mario Lemieux or Gordie Howe and why?
I say Mario Lemieux; I think he was one of those guys who had the “wow factor”. He had people on the edge of their seats when he played so I would have to go with him.
14. Do you have any guilty pleasures that we should know about?
I have a lot of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber on my IPod so maybe that counts as my guilty pleasure.
15. How do you stay in shape and what is your favorite type of workout?
In the summer I have a trainer (Ben Prentiss) in Connecticut that I’ve used the last three years and pretty much swear to everything he’s about, it’s a lot of power lifting and a lot of soft tissue treatments. In the summer, I lift four days a week, do some of the treatments and go from there. In the summer, I lift four days a week, do some of the treatments.
16. What is your life motto on or off the ice?
The quote that I always come back to is from when I was younger, my Dad put this one in my room for me when he thought I wasn’t as dedicated off the ice as I should have been. The quote was “By Failing to Prepare Your Preparing to Fail,” I think that’s one I try to incorporate into my life.
17. If you had the first pick in an NHL fantasy draft (and it cannot be you) who would it be and why?
I’m sure Colby (@ColbyCohen36) probably said himself, but I will probably go with Sidney Crosby. Just the way he can impact the game on all ends of the ice and just the way he makes other players around him better, I think you can’t go wrong with him.
18. Here we always like to ask for our readers, are you single, dating, or locked down?
19. What is your idea of a perfect date?
I’m pretty standard with that stuff, I like to do dinner and then a movie or something but there is this cool place in Toronto that might be good for dates. It’s a Ping Pong place actually, me and Colin (@colinwilson33) went to that place in the summer so maybe that place would be good, so dinner and Ping Pong.