Salmon Arm’s Darien Head wasn’t left on an island with a group of contestants to see if he could survive, but he does know what it feels like to be on a reality television show.
Thanks to his hockey prowess, Head, who is a 17-year-old defenceman with the Sicamous Eagles, stood out when he played for Team BC at the 2013 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Kahnawake, Quebec in May.
After the gold medal game, in which B.C. defeated Team Ontario – B.C.’s first national title in the event’s 12-year history, three players were selected from each of the provincial teams.
Head was one of the three selected from Team BC.
From there the chosen players took part in a training program in Quebec, which started out with fitness testing and intra-squad games.
“After a while, as we got into it more, it was more like an NHL training camp. NHL players would show up every now and then,” he explains.
There was also white-water rafting, zip-lining, go carting, and ‘sky zone’ trampolining which featured a kind of dodge-ball area with basketball hoops.
From day one, the players were filmed by television cameras, all day, every day.
“They filmed us right from the get-go all the way to the final day,” Head says, adding that the cameras were a challenge. “It was obviously new and the cameras were really hard to get used to. Other than that, it was all the kind of stuff I’ve based my hockey training around – fitness stuff that I’d done in the previous year.”
The hockey itself was a bit different, faster-paced than the national championships.
Players were filmed, because their experiences were to become part of Hit the Ice
, the second season of a hockey program made for APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
Episode one airs Thursday, Feb. 27 at 8:30 p.m. on APTN and online.
States the program’s promo: “This youth series that will see dreams come true as the best young male aboriginal hockey players come together for a two-week NHL-like training camp. From physical training, on-ice drills and different team-building activities, these prospects will experience the highs and lows of the Hit The Ice
experience. This time the stakes have been raised, as a few cuts will determine the final roster for the showcase games. Looking to avenge last season’s loss, coach John Chabot will push his team and demand the best from every single player.”
Says Head: “They would be with us pretty much 24-7, filming mainly at our dorms for the first couple of days.”
The first one-on-one interview was hard to get through.
“Camera fright got to me,” he says, noting that if you stumble over your words, you’d be permitted to do it over. “After that it came naturally, speaking off the top of my head, but the first one got to me.”
When the players participated in activities like zip-lining, cameras would be attached to them or set up in a helicopter and, when playing hockey, there would be cameras on chest straps and sticks.
“They were basically with us the whole time.”
But Hit the Ice
doesn’t feature the personality conflicts that some reality shows do. “There was not really much drama – we all kind of bonded like one big family,” he says, noting it was a good crowd to be involved with and the coaches were nice.
At the end of the camp, Head’s team played another squad that was formed in a similar way.
“It was a pretty good game.”
Head’s goals for his hockey future include heading back with Team BC to the national championships to defend the title. Beyond that, “to make it as far as I can go. I don’t really have a set goal – as far as it can take me.”
To see more about Hit the Ice
, go to www.hittheice.com. Darien Head holds up a hockey card of himself made for Hit The Ice, an APTN reality TV series he’ll be appearing in starting Feb. 27.
— image credit: James Murray