And we’re back! With the first Behind the Mask of the 2017-2018 season and with the Fife Flyers new netminder Jordan Marr. Jordan was so lovely to talk to and at times (with my husbands’ interjections with questions of his own) we got quite off the topic of hockey, which makes this exactly what it says on the tin- a behind the mask interview. We get to know the Jordan that not everyone gets to see – and thanks to mum Tracy, there will be some never before seen photos of both Jordan and little brother Renny!
I started out as I often do and asked about his first experience with hockey, which he spoke very openly about. “My most vivid experience would be my first Flyers game I went probably about the 99/00 season.” He began to recount his first memorable experience with the sport. “The had a really good team, and I remember just watching them and seeing a team full of Brits, and thinking that that’s something I really aspired to be. I started roller hockey not long after and being a terrible skater, I was drawn to being a goalie. I loved the gear and just how different it was from any position in any other sport.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle, from learning and speaking to the other goalies I am beginning to understand just how much the position is about skating but also so much more than that too. He continued to explain his reasons for wanting to play the position. “I thought there wouldn’t be much skating but I found out that the technical skating side and the physical demands were really high so I ended up having to work harder. But I was also a little different as a kid and I think being a goalie attracts people who maybe have a little different way of doing or viewing things. I think it takes a bit of a unique mindset to be a goalie.”
“Different in what sense?” I asked intrigued. Wasn’t it always the case that goalies are different in their attitudes to things than any other player on the ice.
“I was super hyper, pretty unfocused, fidgety. But playing goalie helped me focus and channel my energy into something productive and it helped me excel in many areas off the ice too.” Well look at that? Hockey helping out in other areas of his life too. I find this great, especially when hockey can be portrayed occasionally as something that really doesn’t do anything but glorify fighting or distract from other things deemed more important for the kids who play it. But how did he transition from Roller Hockey to Ice Hockey?
“I played on a pretty successful roller team in Benarty and a bunch of guys from that team played ice and asked me to join. I actually played alongside Dundee Stars Craig Holland for my first year of ice and we split time through the year.”
Over the course of his career Jordan has had the chance to play in a few different places that not many British net-minders ever get the chance to do. I wanted to know how that opportunity came about. “Frank Morris was my coach at Fife and knew the owner of Ontario Hockey Academy.” Marr begins. “He recommended me to him and came and saw us play at the Hull Inter-conference tournament and ended up signing myself, Vince Connon and Stevie Chalmers from that Scotland U17 team. After two great years there, I played in Philadelphia in the IJHL for a year and then 4 Years in College at Finlandia University in Michigan.”
What do you think you brought back with you from America in terms of experience? “I think I learned so much mostly about life and about me as a person. From a hockey standpoint, I think it helped me develop a quite professional approach to the game and how to prepare for each season, practice and game. I’m probably most grateful for all the people I met on my journey there. I made a lot of life long friends while I was away.”
Having two goalies in one family is quite rare and I’ve spoken to Renny before. “To me it’s normal to have both of us play goalie but I guess it’s pretty unique.”
Renny said that having a big brother who was also a goalie meant that Jordan would send him videos of other goalies to help with his own practice back home in Scotland.
“Oh yeah, that’s something I still do as well. Renny and Me are so similar but so different at the same time. It’s pretty cool to have someone to talk goalie with, since there’s somethings that only another goalie can understand what you’ve went through. Growing up he used to copy how I played but now he’s a little bigger than me and we both have different strengths, so he’s found a way to play that makes him great at what he does.”
Any amusing stories from when you were younger? “Yeah. I knocked out his teeth when I made him play goalie when he was about 6!” Thank goodness they were only baby teeth!!
There’s quite an age difference between you both, do you think he looked up to you and that’s why he ended up being a goalie too? I’d like to think so! He’d have to be completely mental to decide to do it on his own!” He laughs and to be fair, I’d kind of agree with him. “He was always at the rink when I started so I think it was just natural that he gravitated towards it. I actually coached him for a couple years before I moved away.”
I moved the conversation onto the subject of specific goalie coaching. Since speaking to Miika Wiikman it’s a topic I have liked to touch upon with all of the goalies. I know for example that Coventry have Nathan Craze come and train with them but so far none of the others have mentioned having someone brought in specifically for their skillset. “I worked with Crazey the last two years in MK and Hull and he had a great impact on me. Just having someone there to bounce ideas off, refine technique and give you that little boost of confidence has such a huge effect. I was definitely the most fortunate goalie in the UK by getting to work with him. British Goalies will never develop or have the chance to reach the level of import goalies or get the opportunities to play in or above the Elite League level without a goalie coach and development plan in place.” A bold statement perhaps but one I’d definitely agree with, purely from my observations around the league.
“Wherever I end up next season, I would make sure that some sort of time was set up for the goalies to work on goalie specific drills. It doesn’t have to be a huge chunk of time. Just working on the fundamentals, keeping good habits and focusing on the basic movements really goes a long way in maintaining your technique and building confidence. I think it would be too much of an ask to have all teams with a goalie coach. I think some teams don’t have the budget or some don’t really think it’s worth it.”
“I think it’s important for goalie partners to have that relationship where you can talk about what changes you need to make and know that you’re both gonna push each other to be the best you can be in practice.” With the caliber of import goalies do you think it’s possible that it could impact on how much backups want to try since it would appear they don’t get to play much in regular season anyway? “I agree but it’s a bit of a cycle.” Marr explains.
“If you’re not gonna get a chance to play, guys aren’t gonna put the work in to improve. For some guys it’s just a hobby and they have a full time job outside of hockey, so it’s tough to expect guys to be 100% able to focus on the job like the full time guys. For me, I treated it like a full time job and I try to approach it as professionally as I can.
I loved my time in Edinburgh but sitting on a bench for so long was soul destroying. I pushed myself in practice and tried to be the best I could but I don’t think there’s really a plan for most teams to develop British goalies.
“If you want to develop, you have to play and I don’t think that Brits will get that opportunity. I thought Gary Russell did a great job this year, playing and balancing such a stressful full time job. I think he showed everyone, including myself, that British goalies can play at this level if they are given the opportunity to develop.”
So does Jordan think it’s unrealistic to hope that in the years to come the Elite League might put more emphasis on having British players? And in so doing, put more emphasis on the development of homegrown goalies?
“I think it’s possible. I think you need to gradually drop the import levels, have rules in place so that import goalies can only play a certain % of game so that teams know that they actually have to have a British goalie who can play at that level and they would hopefully invest in them. I think the EPL banning import goalies from 19/20 is a step in the right direction.”
Away from hockey ad to relax Jordan likes to travel with his family and friends. This summer he’d planned a trip to Europe and in the latter part of the summer, he and his brother Renny head to the US and Canada to take part in camps to help prepare them both for the season ahead. They move from city to city with Canadian Professional Goalie Schools (CPGS) which is run by former Fife Flyers goalie Steve Briere. “We are really fortunate to work with such great coaches and people and get to see different places all over.” Explains Marr.
He also talks about his parents and their dedication to not only him but his little brother too in helping them to achieve their goals and dreams. Between two children in very different age brackets, mum going with one brother and dad with the other. Jordan explains that between 2000 and 2015, the Marr’s would often be at hockey related evens 7-10 times a week between September and May.
“My parents really put there lives on hold and sacrificed so much in order to give me an opportunity to succeed and helped me become who I am today. I probably never thanked them enough when I was younger, but I realise now how much of my success is attributed to them.”
We talked a little bit about his time in America and while some people might have been quite homesick, the oldest Marr took it in his stride. “It wasn’t too hard for me [to be in America] I loved it and being in that environment allowed me to thrive and become more independent. Of course at time I missed my family but it was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
So what did he miss now that he was home again? “I miss a lot of my friends, most of them who I haven’t seen since I left but I’ve been lucky enough to see a couple of them again. I think I miss the lifestyle of being a college hockey player the most. I loved the classes, the practices and games, the road trips and the bond you form with all your teammates. Even when things weren’t going great, I’d just think how fortunate I was by getting to experience something I’d worked towards since I was young.”
With all of the goalies, well all the players really I like to talk to them about road trips and how they pass the time on the coaches. What does Jordan choose to do on the trips? “I’ll usually read a little then nap and do the same on the way back or maybe watch a movie. On the short ones I try just sleep the whole way. Pretty boring.”
Boring perhaps, but I like to see which players read, who watches movies and who play games. I think it tells a lot about a person. I’ve only ever found a handful of players who chose to read and as a reader myself I like the book recommendations. So what books does the self confessed goalie nerd have for me?
- The Goalies Mind books by Justin Goldman and Mike Valley
- Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence
- Instant Motivation
- The Game by Ken Dryden
- Thunder and Lightning by Phil Esposito
“Movies that I enjoy? Well we grew up on Adam Sandler movies essentially. I found some good documentaries on Youtube though. There’s a really obscure one I found on YouTube called the Price of Gold or something along those lines. It’s in Swedish but it has subtitles, I dunno if it’s up there anymore but it was really interesting to see the toll the training to win gold had on the athletes bodies.”
I couldn’t find the documentary he might have been talking about sadly. As I really wanted to watch it!
“I keep finding them on YouTube. I think once you find one it just spirals from there. You end up spending all night watching them, that’s all University was for me and my roommates.”
At school his favourite subjects were PE, Biology and at university, History and Philosophy were his electives as he was studying business but he enjoyed those more than the business course. Business seems like a popular course for hockey players and Jordan tells me that 3/4 of his team were all on the business course.
After that I delved a little into the subject of what he might do when he retires, that seems incredibly morbid for a guy so young but with his coaching abilities and his interest in it, it seemed a legitimate question. “I really enjoy it, and if I had the opportunity to when my playing days were over I’d definitely consider it.”
Quick Fire Questions
How would you describe your sense of humor?
What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled on a) a team mate and b) your brother?
Has Renny ever got you?
Maybe a couple of scares now and then. Nothing worth remembering
Do you have any phobias?
However did you end up with a fear of Sharks?!
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
That’s a tough one! Probably moving away and playing in North America. Lot of people said I wouldn’t make it or I couldn’t hack it. I never made it to the NHL or anything but I achieved my goal, so I would say I persevered even when it looked like I would be better off coming back home.
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
What’s your favourite of his films?
American Psycho and The second of his Batman movies
If you came with some kind of warning label, what would it say?
Is that because of hockey or because you’re a Scot?!
Favourite irn-bru advert?
What’s your opinion on Haggis?
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to Jordan for being such a good sport and agreeing to this interview and to his Mum Tracy for supplying me with some not publicly seen before photos of him and Renny! We wish you all the best for the upcoming season with Fife and look forward to your trips down to the Skydome.