Every hockey player will spend their share of time this summer in the weight room and on the track preparing their bodies for training camps and another grueling 72-game campaign. Steelheads forward Joe Basaraba will find time for the traditional workouts as well, but this summer he’s doing a different kind of physical work for what’s been a significant family summer in Fort Frances, Ontario.
Just call him ‘Boss the Builder’.
Basaraba, who agreed to terms for a second season in Idaho on Tuesday, is hard at work this summer building a new home for his sister and her husband. Working under Joe’s father, a carpenter, the family has spent the hot months digging holes, pouring foundations, and hammering nails for a project that is more challenging than perhaps some realize.
“It’s definitely taking its toll on the body this summer. There are lots of wheel barrows of crushed rock and mud, and shoveling along with all that physical labor,” said Basaraba, who assisted his father around the house with numerous carpentry projects growing up, but never built a house.
“I’ve learned a lot as well, which is pretty neat. It’s been fun and I think I’ll be able to use the skills again somewhere along the line.”
Of course no amount of work is too difficult when it’s done for family, especially when that family has just gotten a bit bigger. Joe’s sister and her husband had their first baby in June, a daughter named Lex.
“I’m pretty fortunate to be able to come home for everything that’s been taking place,” said Uncle Joe. “My sister had a baby at the beginning of June, and on top of that we’re building her and her husband’s first big family home together.”
Being a new uncle, Basaraba laughs that there really isn’t a whole lot he can do to entertain Lex at this young age, aside from building her future bedroom.
“It’s been a whirlwind, but Lex has been nothing but sunshine and happiness since she joined our family,” he said. “Now that she’s starting to smile and giggle a little, that’s even more rewarding.”
Building the new family home isn’t the only job Basaraba is undertaking this summer, and his niece Lex isn’t the only child he is hoping to teach a few new tricks. He’s also working at his local rink as part of Northwestern Hockey Camps, a summer hockey school that he himself attended as a kid.
Basaraba teaches hockey skills to young players ages 6-18. He spends much of his time with the 12 year-old group, teaching puck skills and positioning to kids that are just entering the important formative years of youth hockey.
“It’s a full day, but it’s rewarding for me to be able to give back to this community that gave me so much growing up,” he said. “There are some great hockey players from this area and hopefully some of these younger kids can follow in our footsteps.”
Basaraba will be back in Boise in October looking to pick up right where he left off, after scoring 12 goals and 26 points in the final 32 games of last season and adding seven more points in the playoffs. The 2015-16 season was a tale of two halves for Basaraba, in which he experienced great success but also learned a lot as a professional.
“At the beginning of the last year I endured some adversity, and maybe I didn’t handle it as well as I should have. I have to thank for sticking with me in the tough times,” said Basaraba. “With the injury and sitting out for so long, it gave me time to reflect and really find my game from a mental standpoint. With that I was able to get back into game shape and obviously I had some success when I came back.”
Basaraba returns to Boise because he believes it will give him the best opportunity to advance his pro hockey career, and that it’s a city that feels like home. But for the next few weeks, the power forward will stick to power tools and finish the job on the family home.
“Maybe I’ll move in. it’s going to be quite the shack!”