We've been fortunate enough to have many former teammates and good friends play professional hockey. As most people know the career of a professional athlete is terminal and the majority of us have to embark on our second careers once our playing days are over. Our former classmate and captain at Colorado College, Lee Sweatt, enjoyed a 5 year pro career spanning the NHL, KHL, SM Liga, AHL and the EBEL. Lee was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to talk about his time at CC, pro hockey and what he is up to now.
MHH: When did you know it was time to leave the game?
LS: I knew it was time to move on when I had a viable career opportunity outside of hockey. I prepared while I was playing professionally by pursuing 3 MBA's through the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. I knew going into professional hockey that my days as an athlete were numbered. The game never lasts forever and I was just happy to play for some of the teams I played with in my career, as well as see the world and experience different people and cultures as well. As soon as I fulfilled a lifelong desire to play in the NHL, when I broke into the lineup with Vancouver in 2011, I had in the back of my mind that I would enjoy the ride as long as it would last. I also wasn't prepared to sacrifice my career outside of hockey to go back down to the AHL or a lower league just to continue playing hockey.
MHH: What was the hardest transition after retiring from hockey?
LS: The hardest transition was not being a part of the locker room with the boys, telling stories and joking around, as well as the pure elation that you feel when you score a huge goal or make a great play. Those types of successes are difficult to replicate in the outside world, but I guess that is what mens league is for!
MHH: How did Colorado College prepare you for life after hockey?
LS: Colorado College was a life changing experience for me. Going to CC I was a good student, but I wasn't a great student. CC prepared me in so many ways to be a successful person in the world outside of hockey. The writing skills I learned, the logic training, the vast array of classes, as well as some pretty profound professors allowed me to build off my knowledge base and take it to a higher level. The biggest thing I feel CC gave me was the ability to see and analyze a situation from multiple angles and perspectives. I wouldn't be in the position I am today without the skills learned at Colorado College.
MHH: What are you doing now?
LS; I am a financial advisor with one of the largest wealth management firms, and I provide complete financial wealth management services from investments, banking and lending, insurance, business financing as well as trust and estate work.
MHH: How has playing hockey helped you in your new career?
LS; Hockey has helped give me three major things, teamwork, determination and work ethic. Working in teams is crucial in today's business world as there is such a vast amount of information that it is impossible to decipher it all on your own. So partnering with others and working in teams to deliver a powerful solution is the only way, I feel, to be successful in today's economy. Additionally, both determination and work ethic go hand in hand because both have given me the attitude that it is never okay to give up and it is important to keep working on your skills every single day, no matter how difficult or how many struggles you are having.
MHH: Any advice for our students and parents who are currently on their own hockey journey?
LS: It is important to have a good balance of both athletics and school work as in everything. Balance give you the ability to fall back on one aspect of you life and feel its success while the other may be a little more trying. Lastly, you need to have fun. No matter what it is, you need to enjoy what you are doing every day and have a passion to improve. Find what you are passionate about and strive to get better day in and day out. Good luck with all of your journeys both on and off the ice!