Taking Liberties With… Sean O’Rourke
Position: Defenseman, Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL)
Hometown: Alta Loma
Last Amateur Team: Ferris State University (WCHA)
Youth Teams: Riverside Jets, Ontario Senators, California Wave, LA Selects
California Rubber: How did the transition to your first full season of pro hockey go?
Sean O’Rourke: The overall schedule was much tougher with all the travel. You’re playing a lot more games, so there’s not as much time between games to prepare. You have times when you come off a bus after a seven-hour drive and then have to play and then turn around and bus right back. It’s a little more of grind.
CR: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up in California?
SOR: Winning Nationals at Bantam AAA (in 2006 with the LA Selects). That was pretty cool. That was the last real birth year team I played on. We knocked off some big teams along the way.
CR: What is your favorite memory in the game since leaving California?
SOR: There are a lot of them. In juniors, we won the Robertson Cup (with Fairbanks of the North American Hockey League) in 2011. At Ferris State, my sophomore and senior seasons were both really good years. Both years we won the conference and went to the final eight in the NCAA tournament. I’ve been fortunate to play with some good guys.
CR: Do you have a favorite road trip?
SOR: Playing at (the University of) Michigan was pretty fun. You got treated well and it was a really fun place to play. It was a very hostile environment for opposing players, but we thrived on that.
CR: How many of your teammates in California had dads who had played hockey? (Rob O’Rourke is a longtime coach in California, currently for the Tier II junior Ontario Avalanche of the Western States Hockey League.)
SOR: I don’t think a ton of them did, especially in the Inland Empire. In Orange County, you’d come across some from time to time.
CR: Given your dad’s experience as a player and a coach, how much of an influence has he had on your hockey career?
SOR: My dad’s always been my biggest influence and a shoulder to lean on. He’s always the first guy I call. He doesn’t critique me; he’s just someone I can call and bend his ear. It’s been like that for the last 10 years.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
SOR: There’s a lot of guys I looked up to. I loved watching (former Los Angeles Kings defenseman) Rob Blake. I just watched hockey. Even to this day, I don’t have a favorite hockey player. I just love to watch games.
CR: What is your favorite meal or restaurant when you’re back home in California?
SOR: There’s not really one place. I just eat a lot more steaks when I’m home. When I’m away, I don’t seem to have the opportunity to have as many. There is a lot more variety of food out here, so I try to experience that as much as I can.
CR: Are you particular about any of your gear?
SOR: Not so much. I always get dressed left to right, but that’s it. You can’t control things, so I don’t want to get distracted before a game. You could say I’m a very non-superstitious person.
CR: Who is the funniest teammate you’ve ever had?
SOR: There have been a few through the years. One of my LA Selects teammates, Jason Nash, was this kid from the San Fernando Valley who always made me laugh. He played some junior hockey in the North American League, too.
CR: What is one piece of advice you have for younger players?
SOR: Just have fun. This game, especially in California, there’s so much pressure to be successful and go play somewhere. Enjoy what you’re doing. Make it a labor of love. Don’t make it something that’s not fun. Remember, it is just a game. I feel like in California, sometimes people lose sight of that. You’re never going to be successful if you’re not having fun.
Photo/John Gilroy Photography
– Compiled by Chris Bayee