Cal and Nolan Foote knew it was inevitable. Reach a certain level as hockey players and the questions and comparisons would follow.
Questions about following in their dad’s footsteps and making their own name, and comparisons to how he played and what he accomplished at a similar age.
It’s inescapable when dad played 19 seasons in the National Hockey League, won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche, represented Canada five times
internationally, won the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and won a gold medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Instead of distancing themselves from dad Adam’s path, Cal and Nolan have embraced the same road. Step one has already been taken: the dual citizens – both
were born in Englewood, Colo. – accepted invitations to Hockey Canada’s National Teams’ Summer Showcase. Cal, a defenceman, is the youngest player at
Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp, while Nolan, a forward, is attending Canada’s national under-17 development camp.
If things work out for both, Cal will be in Toronto and Montreal in December competing at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship and Nolan will be in
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in October playing for one of three Canadian teams at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
“I watched my dad at the Olympics and the World Cup for Canada, and ever since then I thought it would be amazing to represent Canada,” says Cal. “Now I
get the chance to, so it’s pretty exciting. And same for my brother.”
“I want to follow in my dad’s footsteps in wearing the Maple Leaf,” says Nolan.
This comes on the heels of both coming north, to the Canadian Hockey League, for the best route to lead them there. The brothers were drafted in the second
round, 43rd overall, by the Kelowna Rockets – Cal in 2013 and Nolan in 2015.
They had no shortage of options – the Ontario Hockey League (like their dad, who played in the 1991 Memorial Cup with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), the
Western Hockey League, the NCAA or USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program – but for Cal, the decision was easy.
“The defencemen that have come through the Rockets organization have been pretty special,” he says. “[Shea] Weber and [Duncan] Keith are just two of the
many guys they’ve had, so it was hard not to go to such a good defenceman factory.”
As a rookie last season, Cal finished second in Kelowna scoring among blue-liners. Nolan hopes to join him in the Okanagan in the fall. Like his brother
before him, Nolan played his minor hockey with the Colorado Thunderbirds. Adam coached both his sons with the team.
It was simply a continuation of the guidance he provided at home. Mini-sticks and road hockey were favourite family pastimes. Before school and after
practices, Cal and Nolan frequently made good use of the family’s backyard rink, shooting with their dad.
Both credit Adam for their knowledge of the game and admit an early introduction to the professional side instilled a desire to follow him to the rink.
“When I was young my mother would take my brother and me to watch Avs morning skate and we always went to games, and that’s how I fell in love with the
game,” says Nolan. He was skating with his brother by the time he was four. “Once we got older Cal and I would sometimes go out on the Avs morning skate.”
Sometimes after a Colorado win, the boys could even go in the dressing room.
Nolan, the lone forward in the family – “I picked forward because I love to score” – even played on the Avalanche ice once.
“My team played a short game and shootout during an intermission, and I ended up getting an interview in front of the crowd.”
Crowds decked out in red and white may await both in a few months. It’s the exact scenario that brought them home. For now the focus is on having good
camps; neither will allow himself to think too far into the future to what could be. And neither will allow for self-comparisons to a dad who’s been in the
“I don’t really look at it as being the same or doing just as well as he did,” says Cal. “I just want to play my game and just be me.”