by Yard Athletics – Nov 25th, 2020
Over the last few months we’ve been turning our attention to some of the amazing athletes that have come through the Yard Athletics doors to train for their upcoming seasons.
Next up in our Yard Athlete Development Spotlight is Tyler Morley, currently playing centre for Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Hockey League.
A native of Burnaby BC, we wanted to get to know Tyler’s journey from young a kid with “skates on his feet ever since he could walk” to now playing in one of the most elite hockey leagues in the world.
Where did you grow up playing hockey?
I’ve had skates on my feet ever since I was able to walk. My dad took my brother and I to the rink for public skating as toddlers and we’ve been on skates ever since. My dad was a football player in high school without any experience in hockey, so as my brother and I were growing up and learning to skate, my dad was learning well. My minor hockey career was mostly played at Burnaby Minor and 3 years at the Burnaby Winter Club.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue hockey seriously?
I really didn’t take hockey seriously until I was about 17. I did some skating lessons when I was growing and did some power skating every now and again, but never took it seriously. Just played for the love of the game. I always worked my bag off because I was small for my age, undersized, and always the youngest on the teams with my late birthday. I made the Grandview Steelers at 15, and that surprised both myself and my parents. I remember when I told them I made the team, my mom was there and started crying because she legit thought I would get killed (as did I). The next season I made the jump to Junior A for the Surrey Eagles, and during that season I was gaining attention for collegiate schools in the states and started to realize that hockey could take me somewhere.
How did you first start training with Yard Athletics?
When I made that Junior A team at age 16/17 I might have been pushing 130-140 pounds, tops. After a couple of practices running into a mobile fridge in the corners (Cumby was our captain at the time…) I realized that hard work wasn’t going to get me a college scholarship. I needed to put on mass and add speed/ strength to my game. That summer I followed Cumby into GroundWorks Athletics and they have slowly sculpted me into the man I am today.
What sort of impact has training with Yard had on your growth as a player?
Coming in with no real experience of lifting or any any sort of training, they were able to show me the skills and techniques to move properly as a hockey player. The trainers at Ground Works slowly showed me how to use proper positioning, even before throwing any weight on my back. Cumby made the transition from playing hockey to training the hockey athletes and that is where I started to see big changes in my game. It is always nice walking into a gym and knowing the person in charge has played the game at a competitive level. He knows and understands the difficulty of the sport, and the bumps and bruises the body has to endure.
I had reconstructive ACL knee surgery one summer and thought for sure I wouldn’t be ready for the upcoming season. Cumby took it upon himself to make sure I was going to be ready when I went back to college. Staring at what looked like a straight wooden leg, we needed to rebuild the muscle but also get the nerves and muscle memory firing properly again. Within time I started to see mass again on my leg, but also flexibility, strength, and triggering the important nerves.
The heaviest squat or deadlift doesn’t mean you’re the best on the ice. How does Yard’s training balance strength with power, agility and fitness?
The Yard does a tremendous job of developing their athletes. It doesn’t matter if you are a male or female player, have 10 years pro hockey experience, college hockey, junior hockey, or even minor hockey. They are there to develop your career. They will work within your weight, size, and experience to develop you as a player. Cumby and his team have the ability to incorporate strength, speed, agility, and fitness all into one workout.
Sessions are catered to different parts of the body and target muscles that may not get used as much during the season, but they find a way to get them firing and working back at the full potential. Not only all that, but they make it fun to be in the gym everyday. We have one of the best jobs in the world and getting your butt kicked in the gym every morning is not always fun, but Cumby and his staff make it enjoyable and a positive working environment. That is what makes the summer’s most fun.
Proudest moment of your hockey career? Worst?
It’s tough to highlight one specifically proud moment. I think the slow climb in my career was particularly proud for me because each step was an achievement I would have never thought possible. Making the Junior B at the age of 15 was a proud moment because each team could only carry two under-agers. Then moving to Junior A and receiving a full ride scholarship to the University of Alaska Fairbanks was something I never thought would happen. After university I got the opportunity to sign my first professional contract with the San Diego Gulls in the AHL, scoring on my first shot of the first game. That following season I worked hard at camp and played in two NHL Exhibition games. To have my parents and fiancee fly in for those games and hear them yell as I walked out of the tunnel for warmup put chills down my spine.
It has been a career that I never thought would lead me this far in life. As for a bad moment, I’m sure every player will tell you that we have all had our fair share of negative times. It would be hard to pin one because this is a game of mistakes. We as players make mistakes all the time, and have to learn from those mistakes quickly. The ones who try to gather in those experiences and try to minimize them, tend to continue to grow and advance their careers as a hockey player.
Who’s got the best chirps on the ice?
There are a lot of guys out there who are witty and quick on the trigger. I have played with a lot of different characters who make the game so much fun. The everyday comradery of being in the locker room with 20-25 guys makes this job so much fun with a ton of laughter everyday. One thing is for sure though, that Shawzo has been known to tell a bad story to tell or two….
What’s next for you in hockey?
Right now I am playing for Skelleftea AIK in the SHL (Swedish Hockey League). We have been fortunate enough in Sweden to start the league smoothly so far, albeit with no fans allowed in the building. With all the uncertainty in the world, I’m just focusing on playing a good season and hoping that we can play it out to completion. It’s a tough time to be a professional hockey player as jobs are very limited because some leagues are not playing or able to fund without fans in the arena. I am grateful for the opportunity to be playing and continually trying to advance my career.