Okay, technically the Mid-American Conference doesn't sponsor hockey. But Bowling Green is a MAC school with a Division I presence in the sport, and when you hear the story, you'll feel it ought to count too.
During his breakthrough junior year in the 2003-04 NCAA season, the CCHA goaltender of the year woke up after a game and experienced numbness in his leg, which eventually spread throughout his body. Days later he underwent tests, learning he had multiple sclerosis. Prior to the start of his senior season, he publicly announced his illness and insisted he would continue playing. I can't blame him; Jordan Sigalet had already been drafted by the Boston Bruins, and he wanted to pursue that dream despite the odds.
While undergoing injections and feeling occasional tingles in his limbs, Sigalet led the Falcons with a 2.89 GAA and .915 save percentage. He guided his team to their best record in eight years and became one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top college hockey player.
His senior year, he and the university held a "MS Awareness Weekend" raffle and auction, raising more than $10,000 for MS research. The next year he turned pro. During his time with the Providence Bruins, Boston's minor-league affilate, he partook in a fundraiser, "Sigalet Saves For MS," where a sponsor company donated $20 for every one of his saves during April 2006 to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He also started his own charity, "Shutout MS," in 2005. This organization held various events including charity hockey games with NHL players, dinners and auctions, with all the proceeds going to the National MS Society.
Indirectly his story generated some comfort in another BGSU athlete. Women's basketball forward Carin Horne, one of the top scorers in school history, announced at the end of her playing career in 2007 that she also was diagnosed with MS.
And while helping others through fundraising and inspiration, Sigalet was called up to the bigs in 2007, registering one minute of relief time with the Boston Bruins. Later that year in Providence, he collapsed in goal, falling face forward and losing consciousness for several seconds. He returned to competitive action later that year and retired as a player in 2008.
These days he's the goaltending coach of the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames, while still spreading the message.
It's not easy for college athletes to show weakness — not only to fans and opposing players, but also to professional scouts. It goes against the grain of the proud jock's mentality. But through leading by example and generosity, Sigalet demonstrated himself to be one of the MAC's — er, the CCHA's — best and bravest players of all time. I'm honored to have been in his graduating class.
To see the rest of the Buick Human Highlight Reel, and even share a story of your own, go to ncaa.com/buick. This post is sponsored by Buick.