Hockey Player from Endicott Paves the Way with Remarkable Stroke Recovery

REPOSTED FROM CBS By / CBS Boston

BEVERLY – The walk into Raymond J. Bourque Arena is a welcome home for Jack Smiley.

The 23-year-old Endicott College student has only been back to campus one other time since his stroke in February.

“It’s amazing every time I get back here,” said Smiley. “I mean I am grateful for everything at this point in time, just walking outside and breathing fresh air. I have a sense of gratefulness toward it.”

Smiley was on the ice practicing with his fellow hockey teammates earlier this year when he said things started to feel off. “I remember clear as day what everything felt like,” said Smiley. “What I was seeing, where I was standing. Nothing in that moment was really a blur.”

Smiley said his arms and legs started going numb. He quickly became disoriented and worked his way off the ice where his teammates stepped in.

“He couldn’t move, he couldn’t control his body, he couldn’t talk,” said Endicott Junior AJ Martinelli.

Smiley was put in the back of an ambulance and taken to the hospital. His family rushed up from Pennsylvania to be with him. Smiley recalled an early conversation from the hospital bed with his father, who asked for positivity.

“I looked at him and I was like, a majority positive thoughts, I will give you that,” said Smiley. “A majority positive, but I will be allowed my moments.”

Smiley was in the ICU for roughly a week before being moved to a rehabilitation center that he was in and out of for the better part of three months. He started documenting his recovery along the way. Keeping that positive mindset his father asked of him. His friends and teammates noticed.

“It’s remarkable what he has been through,” said Connor Beatty. Another teammate, Cameron Speak said, “I thought he was too positive before the stroke and then now after he is even more positive, and it is unbelievable.”

To the awe of his teammates, Smiley was back on the ice just three weeks after his stroke with the help of a walker and therapists.

Smiley said his doctors have not mentioned whether he will be able to play hockey again.