Dave Dotan considers himself to be one of the fortunate ones.
The product of Richmond Minor Hockey remembers the support he got from his parents to achieve his potential on the icethe sacrifices they had to make in both time and finances to allow him to ultimately suit up on the blue line of the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders.
That's why the 21-year-old, and a group of fellow SFU business students, are launching a lifestyle clothing company, called Potential Apparel, that will use part of its proceeds to help disadvantaged youth participate in organized sports.
"Oh, wow, it was a huge commitment by my folks," Dotan says, sitting outside Minoru Arenas where he spent a good deal of time on the ice. "When you consider hockey sticks alone can cost $100 each, it's a big commitment financially. Then you have league fees, tournament fees, skate sharpening. It adds up to a lot of money.
"And you have to be financially stable and secure because hockey is one of the most expensive sports you can get a kid into."
Thankfully, his parents were able to provide that. But during his travels through the lower hockey ranks and into the WHL Dotan became aware how lucky he was to get an "education" on the ice.
"Growing up, I realized that when my career was over how important sports was to me, and my friends," Dotan said. "It's taught me many things in life. And over time I began to see how many kids couldn't afford to play sports. And that's unfortunate because the education you get from playing sports is just as valuable as school."
So, using his business skills Potential Apparel was born. The line of t-shirts, hoodies and ball caps will start being sold online April 30 at potentialapparel.com.
To help give the business a push Dotan is enlisting the support of his many hockey buddies who now are on the cusp or have started their pro hockey careers.
Among them is former Vancouver Giants captain and now Montreal Canadiens rookie sensation Brendan Gallagher.
"Brendan is probably the perfect model we want for this company," Dotan said. "He's a small player who has been told all through his career he wouldn't be able to succeed. And not only has he succeeded, he's broken records with the Giants, and he's made the NHL."
It's those kinds of lessons of perseverance, Dotan said, that sports can teach youngsters.
Gallagher and the rest of the players on Dotan's "team" will be endorsing the Potential Apparel brand at numerous events during the off season including a charity game featuring NHL and WHL talent.
Benefitting from the $5 to $7 from each Potential Apparel item sold will be the charitable groups The Right To Play and Heros Hockey.
"The Right To Play helps children across the world play sports," Dotanm said. "And Heros Hockey, which is a Vancouver-based group, helps kids get on the ice to play hockey."
Dotan added the supplier of the clothing for Potential Apparel is the same one used by Reebok and Aritzia to ensure quality.
Expectations are that the company will be able to raise $250,000 for charity in the first year.