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A forward for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's hockey team, Mitch Lebar of Aurora, Ont., is a multi-dimensional hockey player. Despite hockey not being his first sport of choice as a child, Lebar found himself naturally being drawn to the sport he now excels at.  "I played soccer when I was younger, my dad was pretty hard on soccer since he played when he was younger," said the athlete, adding, "I was introduced to hockey late. I started when I was about 10 years old while most kids get into it at about five or six years old." Once the time came to decide between the two sports, this Golden Hawk didn't hesitate to make the right decision for himself, describing, "I felt like it came down to a point in my life, at an age where you have to decide between one or the other. I started playing summer hockey and I enjoyed playing hockey more - I think I was a better hockey player than a soccer player." 

Lebar's hockey journey thus continued as he played house-league before eventually being drafted in the first round by the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2009. "It was awesome getting drafted. I was committed to going to Michigan but then Barrie drafted me and it changed my views on what I wanted from hockey," explained the forward second year forward. However, during his second year, this future Golden Hawk was traded to the Kingston Frontenacs [OHL team] where he played for the rest of his OHL career. "At first I was skeptical about getting traded, but Kingston was a better fit for me in many ways", said Lebar. Before deciding that going back to school was the best medium between balancing academia and athletics, Lebar learned many lessons that he applies today. "Everywhere from the dressing rooming to being responsible outside the rink when you're in the public eye," explained the athlete, going on to say, "The main one would be to know how to respect your teammates." 

Before officially donning the purple and gold, Lebar contacted head coach GREG PUHALSKI, but with a number of friends and family already attending the school, Laurier was an easy choice for him. "I always had my eyes set on Laurier. Knowing that I had friends here and my brothers, it was a time in my life that I decided I wanted to make a selfish decision for once," said Lebar. 

The transition process from being an athlete to a student-athlete was a smooth one, despite some worries about the new role would hold. "When I first came to Laurier, I was worried about the caliber of hockey and balancing school, but since I've been here, it's been an easy fit. You get used to your patterns and routines - being part of Laurier was an easy step," admitted Lebar, adding,  "The biggest obstacle is balancing everything: your social life, school, and hockey all in one." His efforts would pay off, as Lebar would go on to be the recipient of Laurier Athlete of the Week in December of 2012. 

As for the future, this Golden Hawk is keeping his options open. "Right now, I'm open-minded. I don't know what I want to do but I do know that I want to travel. I also want to continue playing hockey and get my degree and then see where that takes me," stated Lebar. "As I've learned, and over my whole career, there's more to hockey than just putting a puck in a net. You're responsible not only for yourself but for your teammates." The offensively-oriented player seems to not only embody the traits of a successful student-athlete, but also that of a role model. "I'm so thankful for what hockey has given me, but there's another side to life and you have to balance it. It's so important to focus on all aspects of your life rather than just one specific thing - being a better person, as a whole, is very important as a hockey player," concluded Lebar.
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