Hockey Snapshot: Michael Betcherman
Long winter days in Ottawa consisted of pick-up “shinny” in the morning, afternoon and evening for Canadian native Michael Betcherman. Growing up aspiring to be in the professional hockey league forms in the mind of many younger players, but the thought of growing up to write about hockey became Betcherman’s reality after years of enjoying sports as a participant and spectator.
Vividly recalling his memories as a child, Betcherman remembers walking to the rink with skates in hand, streets full of snow, and enduring the walk back, which was extremely tiring trudging through the snow. These sorts of recalled anecdotes not only shaped his childhood, but provided solid hockey cornerstones for his future profession.
Enjoying the hockey culture which is in the veins of Canadians, Betcherman and his brother would challenge any and all neighborhood kids throughout their childhood. Betcherman’s family moved to Toronto when he was 15, and the pastime of pick-up hockey for him and his brother continued while also giving way to the sport of basketball, a high school sport he was able to really master. He continued to play at university and then professionally in Israel, but eventually found his passion in writing while working as a legal consultant in Canada.
“I decided to settle into writing novels because I did not have to depend on anybody else to achieve what I wanted” Betcherman said. “I get to control all the pieces and I like that.”
Betcherman is not only good at controlling the pieces, but producing novels reminiscent of his childhood sport of hockey. Although he was not necessarily planning on writing about hockey, the idea subconsciously was always there.
“I literally woke up one day with the idea of a male high school hockey player whose dad had wrongly been convicted of murder” Betcherman said. “And within the hour had 15 pages written, something that I had never done before or done since.”
The ideas just flowed, and his first novel Breakaway was picked up with Penguin, so long as Betcherman agreed to write a second hockey novel, Face-Off. These young adult hockey mystery novels are exactly the books Betcherman would have picked up when he was a kid.
“They have that sports edge which I hope will appeal to young players” Betcherman said. “But hopefully the books will attract a large audience because of the interesting characters, common problems teenagers identify with and very strong female characters.”
Beyond the storyline, Betcherman sets his books in Vancouver incorporating real places, streets and attractions. Breakaway’s main character’s father plays for the Canucks, creating a true hockey atmosphere within the story. Betcherman’s foundation for the premise of Breakaway is inspired by Todd Bertuzzi’s on-ice attack against Steve Moore ultimately ending his career.
Betcherman has been a player, novelist and above all a fan of hockey throughout his life. He’s experienced many angles of sports, but applies the same logic to them all.
“I think you have to follow your heart” Betcherman said. “I know when you start to get into sports and dream of being a professional athlete that it’s important not to lose sight of who you are.”
Betcherman believes in the value of a strong worth ethic, whether on the ice or in the classroom.
“Whatever you do want to do give it a 100% and never give up, whatever you do in life” Betcherman said. “The earlier on you figure this out the happier you’re going to be.”
To order a copy of copy of either "Breakaway" or "Face-Off", click HERE.