The question was inevitable.
“Jermaine, how many goals have you scored?” asked one of Gina Fabbro-Smith’s inquisitive Grade 3 students at Summit elementary last Monday.
The answer, while a touch embarrassing, was simple.
“None yet,” replied Jermaine Loewen, the 6-foot-3 Kamloops Blazers’ forward, towering above the transfixed children. “But, I feel like it’s coming any day now.”
Before the orphaned-Jamaican-turned-WHLer left the class, he passed on a message, one that wasn’t lost on those listening.
“He said, ‘I’m not a negative person, I’m positive,’” said Landon Lockwood, one of Fabbro-Smith’s pupils.
“‘It helps you a lot if you think positive, not negative, and good things always come up.’”
Each day, the students write in an agenda and more than a few of them decided homework that Monday night would be to think positive thoughts for their 17-year-old hero, willing him to score his first major-junior goal.
They didn’t have to wait long.
In his very next game, Loewen, who didn’t start skating until he was 10, wired home a wrist shot to ignite a euphoric celebration at Sandman Centre on Oct. 28 — two days after the Summit speaking engagement.
“I was excited because he hadn’t scored a goal for the Blazers,” said Nate Sanders, one of Lockwood’s Grade 3 pals. “In our agenda, me and Landon wrote, ‘Go Blazers go! Score Jermaine!'”
When news of the milestone marker — scored in his 48th WHL game, nearly a year and a half into his career with the Blazers — reached the classroom the next morning, the students decided to pen a letter to Loewen.
“Everyone was so excited and they came in that morning and they were all celebrating,” Fabbro-Smith said.
“When they learned more about his family history and his story, they were even more impressed.”
Stan and Tara Loewen adopted Jermaine when he was three, but were forced to endure an agonizing two-year wait before he could go home with them to Arborg, Man.
Now, in addition to striving to follow in Graeme Townshend’s footsteps and become the second Jamaican-born player to lace them up in the NHL, Loewen is adapting to the position of role model.
“It’s not always easy, but you’ve got to embrace it and, yeah, there’s a lot of pressure to be that guy, but it’s not about me,” Loewen said. “It’s about how I can impact the kids out there and how I can impact my team.”
Blazers’ community relations co-ordinator Ashley Neuls told KTW about the letter Fabbro-Smith dropped off last week and arrangements were made for Loewen to return to the classroom to say thanks.
“Thank you very much for the letter,” said Loewen, standing in front of the students yesterday morning. “It meant a lot, your supporting me. It really helped. I could feel the energy from you guys and you listened well when I read to you. That was awesome.”
Loewen posed for a picture with the letter and the children who wrote it before he drove home to prepare for a practice, slightly worried about the wrath of head coach Don Hay, who was not thrilled about his team’s start against Spokane a night earlier.
The bag skate to come quickly vanished from his mind when asked about the letter he received last week.
“I’m blessed, just blessed,” Loewen said. “There’s a lot of people who want to be in the position I’m in.
“People are always watching you and want to know where you stand in life. I feel that if I can be a good role model for the kids, I want to be that way.”