By: Ryan McKenna and Dan Berlin, Ryersonian Staff
Varsity Hockey Player. Electrical engineering student. Proud new father.
Welcome to the wild world of 23-year old Ryerson undergrad Steve Taylor.
Taylor, in his third season with the Rams men’s hockey team, became a dad for the first time six weeks ago on Sept. 21, when he and fiancée Jen Lavers welcomed son Bennett into their lives. Steve’s life is now a juggling act, worthy of being in the Ringling Bros. Circus. Yet, despite the demands of a heavy course load and a rigorous hockey schedule mixed in with a few sleepless nights, he hardly seems to mind.
“The craziness is a good craziness,” said Taylor. “There’s a lot of upside to having that crazy lifestyle. You benefit a little bit from the happiness that comes of it.”
Like a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie, Steve and Jen’s lives changed forever on Valentine’s Day last year. Before heading out for a romantic dinner, they both got some shocking news: Jen was pregnant.
“I dropped to the ground and sat there for a little bit,” said Lavers, also 23. “The whole dinner we were like, ‘Oh my god, what do we do?’ because you never actually think it’s going to happen.”
Despite their young age and busy lifestyle, they immediately knew this was something they both wanted.
“Right away it was, ‘We’re going with it.’” said Taylor, who proposed to Lavers two months after making the announcement. “There were no doubts.”
4 a.m. — The baby’s awake
Little Bennett is crying. A bleary-eyed Taylor must roll out of bed, despite being up twice already. Those days of sleeping in on weekends seem like ancient history.
“It was the biggest adjustment, like, the biggest,” said Lavers. “I’m used to sleeping 10 hours at once, especially when I was pregnant and waiting around for him.”
Taylor, meanwhile, draws from his hockey background to help with the transition to fatherhood, especially during those early morning hours.
“The nurse told us at the hospital that, basically, you guys have to be a team. So, Steve would be responsible for the diapers and I’m supposed to sleep through that,” said Lavers. “But it doesn’t (always) work that way.”
9 a.m. — Class begins
Taylor’s school week starts on Monday at 9 a.m. with one of the semester’s four engineering courses, all part of 19 hours he spends per week in the classroom. And that doesn’t take into account the piles of homework and studying required to keep afloat in such a demanding program.
3 p.m. — Hit the ice
After class, Taylor must head over to the Mattamy Athletic Centre to lace ’em up and join his teammates on the ice for practice. For the next few hours, hockey is the perfect getaway. Except perhaps when the coach makes them bag skate following a sub-par performance in a game. But like the graceful skater he is, Taylor takes it all in stride. Ten months ago, he wasn’t even sure he would be able to continue playing hockey at Ryerson with the added stress and demands that a newborn brings.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to handle it,” said Taylor. “And I didn’t want to put all the pressure on Jen to raise the baby when I’m gone at night.”
6 p.m. — Daddy daycare
Practice is over, but Taylor’s day is hardly done. The good news is, he’s almost home. His two-bedroom condo is directly across the road from the MAC, where he and Lavers live along with Taylor’s teammate, Rams third-year defenceman Brian Birkhoff.
“(Bennett) will come out and sit with me while I do homework at the table,” said Taylor, who helps Lavers out whenever possible. “I’ll put him in his swing or bassinet, or with Brian.”
Talk about a good teammate.
Despite their hectic schedules, Taylor and Lavers both decided that playing hockey would be the right move for him moving forward. He now cherishes every moment he has on the ice.
“I appreciate the game more,” said Taylor, who has three assists in five games for the Rams this season.
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to play. Now I feel like I’m lucky to still be playing.”