Sports Spectrum Weekly

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele rides competitiveness, faith to 2nd All-Star appearance

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele is fiercely competitive, even by professional athlete standards.

“He’s an unbelievable player and the thing I like about him is that he’s never satisfied,” Jets forward Andrew Copp recently told The Athletic. “He’s always working to get better, he’s always trying to perfect his craft. He’s one of the most dedicated people I know.”

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And yet side-by-side with Scheifele’s reputation for competition is his commitment to his Christian faith. Since Scheifele was a kid, his competitiveness has been mixed with insecurity, anger and anxiety. As Scheifele has matured as a player and follower of Jesus, those around him have noticed the growth in his character and leadership.

“When I watched him in Barrie [in the Ontario Hockey League, a major junior league in Canada], there was no doubt in my mind he was going to be something pretty special,” Colin Behenna, who played two seasons with Scheifele for Barrie, told NHL.com. “He was one of those guys where you just know. He works harder than anyone else. And the passion and love for the game to get better, and to work on the smallest little things, you could see that with time and maturity, it was going to develop into something special, and it has.”

Scheifele’s visibility in the NHL has been growing since the 2018 postseason, when he set a record by scoring 11 road goals in the playoffs. He followed it up with the best season of his career in 2018-19, racking up 84 points (38 goals, 46 assists). And in the first half of this season, he’s already collected 54 points (23 goals, 31 assists), tied for 12th in the NHL.

Scheifele will make his second All-Star appearance on Saturday, when the 2020 NHL All-Star Game takes place in St. Louis. Last year in San Jose, Scheifele scored a goal in the Central team’s 10-4 semifinal win over the Pacific. The Central lost to the Metropolitan team, 10-5, in the final (the fourth consecutive All-Star Game that used a four-team, 3-on-3, single elimination format).

As his hockey career has taken off, Scheifele has turned to God. He says he has battled anxiety since he was young, so he often works with sports psychologists, but he’s also learned to spend more time in prayer. Raised in a Christian family, Scheifele has developed into a chapel leader on the Jets.

“I think it’s something that has always kept me on the straight and narrow, always having God in my life and having that belief that everything happens for a reason,” Scheifele told NHL.com last year. “No matter the time or place, I always have my parents I can talk to, but I know at 4 a.m. if I can’t sleep and something is stressing me out or there’s something I’m dealing with, I always have God there to talk to. It’s something that’s always kept me humble.”

Scheifele is actively involved in the Winnipeg community, serving as a sport ambassador for KidSport Winnipeg, a charity that aims to remove the financial barriers to playing sports. He runs an annual hockey camp for boys and girls on behalf of KidSport.

“As athletes, we are always competitive with ourselves anyway,” Scheiele told salvationist.ca. “Obviously, you go through ups and downs. I know I will have to deal with adversity, but God has a reason for everything. No matter what I face, I want to shine my light and glorify Him. I take the role I play in the community here as a Christian very seriously.”

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