However, he took to it like an old pro, and rose to play on the national level.
Northern California is not known as a hotbed of hockey fanaticism, even with the arrival of the NHL Sharks in the early 90s. As such, Nave did not grow up following the sport. "I started really late in terms of age," he said "When I was 13-years-old I got into watching hockey, especially the playoffs, and really liked it. I started playing ball hockey on foot when I was 14 because I couldn't skate."
An outdoor rink opened near Nave's house about this time, and he began playing roller hockey. In a short time, he was participating in events at the national level. "I was always into sports," Nave said. "I loved playing basketball and baseball. I was always competitive and wanted to win and once I got into hockey I wanted to get better. I would play four to five hours a day trying to improve.
"One of my good friends, Ian Striegler, worked at the rink where I learned to play. He was already an awesome player and was part of a very good travel team program at a different rink in San Jose. He taught me to play and I kind of idolized him. He was only a year older than me and by the time I was 17-years-old we were playing on the same National team skating on the same line."
Nave had the gift, and in short time turned from pupil into teacher. "Quite possibly the greatest compliment I ever received was when I was 20, and probably at my best all time as far as roller hockey goes," he said. "Striegler and I were on a 21-and-under Division 1 team and he said he was learning from me now."
A San Jose native - his parents have owned the same house since before he was born - Nave said he wasn't a lot of trouble for his parents, and he points to mom as one of the major influences in his life. "My mom always did whatever she could to help me and has supported me through hockey for almost 10 years now," he said. "She really wants nothing for herself, just for her kids to be safe and happy."
As her son took to hockey, to say the least an often times violent sport, the safe part took center stage for Sue Nave. "I know she's always afraid I'm going to get hurt or something.and I know she didn't want me to play when I was 16," Nave said. "But she let me do what I wanted."
Mom's support allowed Nave to stay in the game he had quickly grown to love. When it looked as though other responsibilities were going to push hockey out of his life, mom came to the rescue. "One time I was going to quit because I was taking a lot of classes and not working, so I could really afford to play," he said. "My mom wouldn't let me quit and paid for everything. If I ever need anything I know all I have to do is call her."
In Part Two Nave talks about his influences on the ice, and his rise to National-level athlete.
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