National Hockey League veteran Mike Fisher is known for being a gritty, two-way, heavy hitting center who brings not only offensive, but also defensive play to the table. He’s a tough, gutsy, teammate-defending player that contributes natural leadership qualities on and off the ice.
Since debuting with the Ottawa Senators in 1999, Fisher has played just over 900 NHL games and has tallied over 260 goals in his career. He has been nominated for the Frank J. Selke trophy as the best defensive forward in the league, helped the Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup finals, and took home the 2012 NHL Foundation Award, which recognizes the NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance, and teamwork; to enrich the lives of people in his community. He has accomplished a lot in his career so far, but his talents on the ice aren’t the only thing that describe him. He has always been open about his faith and putting God at the center of his life and credits all of his success to his faith in God.
Fisher put God at the center of his life at a very young age. Growing up in Peterborough, Ontario in a devoted christian family, Fisher regularly attended church on Sundays and was raised in being taught to have a healthy balance in life and a purpose through Christ. During his adolescent years, he found himself struggling at times and sought balance between his faith and career. Playing in the NHL had been his dream since he was young, but his faith kept him grounded and driven.
“Well, I’ve definitely learned a lot as I’ve grown and gotten older,” said Fisher. “It’s taught me a lot. It’s given me an appreciation for the game. It puts everything in perspective. I know hockey is my career and it’s a big part of who I am, but it’s not everything. It’s not my whole life”.
Fisher achieved his dream of becoming a professional hockey player at just 19; drafted by the Ottawa Senators and signing his first NHL contract. With a bright future ahead, he was set for success, but the road wasn’t paved to the top. He faced many bumps in the road that tested his faith. One defining memory in his career was when he was sidelined by a knee injury just a few games before the regular season was set to come to an end.
As stated in his book, “Defender of Faith,” he began to question whether he’d have to sit during the playoffs or worse. As the game continued on without him, he began to panic. He glanced at the clock noticing it was stopped at 12:12. One of the bible versus he had committed to memory was Romans 12:12. Which states: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Suddenly Fisher was overcome with a sense of calmness and knew everything would be okay.
“There have been a lot of learning moments,” said Fisher. “I’ve been through a lot of different injuries; almost every one possible. I think it’s something that I’ve learned to rely on, to learn from it. God has definitely taught me a lot of different things going through those situations and given me different perspectives.”
Experiencing those situations throughout his life not only made him a better, stronger person, but grew his trust in God.
“The more I’ve gone through, the more patience I’ve had, the more I trust. My attitude has gotten a little bit better as I’ve gotten older going through it”, Fisher explained. “Everything happens for a certain reason and there’s certain things you can’t control and God will bring you through it.”
Growing up knowing the proper balance in life and pursuing a relationship with Christ, he knew that having a career in hockey could help him reach more people with the message.
“I know hockey is a huge important part of my life,” said Fisher. “It’s definitely a unique platform where I can hopefully encourage other people in their faith as well.”
As mentioned earlier, in 2011 Fisher released a book titled “Defender Of Faith: The Mike Fisher Story” in which all proceeds went to World Vision; geared towards young readers ages 9-12. The book, which was written by Kim Washburn, is a perfect balance of hockey and inspiration. Washburn takes you through the ups and downs of Fisher’s career and personal journey starting from the beginning.
The book features Fisher’s career milestones, such as being drafted by the Ottawa Senators, first career NHL goal, competing in the Stanley Cup Finals. She also highlights some his personal milestones such as the success of the Mike Fisher Hockey Camp and his marriage to Carrie Underwood. “Defender Of Faith” shows a side of Mike Fisher that most don’t get to experience. Throughout the challenges of life, Fisher has kept God at the center of his heart, and is seen as an optimum role model for youth.
“They approached me about doing a book,” said Fisher. “I thought it’d be a unique tool to have for people to hear a little bit and hopefully be encouraged; the younger Christian players, non-Christian players, regular people. I’ve gone through some different things in my life. Hopefully if that helps other people to be encouraged then that’s kinda a cool thing.”
Whether you are a child, teen, or adult, “Defender Of Faith: The Mike Fisher Story” is inspiring, encouraging and a must read for all ages.
One of Fisher’s career milestones was taking home the NHL Foundation Award in 2012. He has always been very active in the community whether it’s volunteering during his free time at local Nashville charities, such as The Room In The Inn; a full service homeless shelter located just blocks away from Nashville Predators home arena, Monroe Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and Cottage Cove Urban Ministries, where Fisher donated $40,000 to purchase a new van and renovate their music room.
“Nashville has so many great organizations,” said Fisher. “When I first came here I was really impressed that so many Christian organizations and non-Christian organizations are so involved and do so much. I enjoy doing certain things and getting involved as much as I can; when my schedule sees fit. Our team does a great job integrating guys into different charities. It’s been awesome. Nashville is a real awesome place that cares for its people.”
Not only has Fisher donated his time in Nashville and surrounding areas, he’s also participated in multiple mission trips overseas. In 2011 he traveled to El Salvador with World Vision and was able to get a first-hand experience of the extreme poverty of villages where he sponsors children. Fisher has been actively involved with World Vision for many years. See video from his trip to El Salvador. In 2012 he took part in “NHL players speak out for Sahel.” Take a look at the behind the scenes video where he discussed his work with World Vision as well as the West Africa flood crisis.
Most recently, he and his wife spent time during the off-season volunteering in Haiti with their church group, who teamed up with Danita’s Children, a non-profit organization that rescues and cares for orphaned and impoverished children.
“We had our church group going and wanted to be a part of something and obviously during the season it’s just crazy and a lot of our life is just people doing stuff for us in the hockey world,” said Fisher. “Everything is kind of done for you. You just get to go and play. You kinda want to go and be on the other end of it sometimes; help other people and serve. It’s definitely think it’s something everyone needs to do, even for a perspective of seeing some of the things that happen in this world. It definitely changes you. It changes your heart for sure.”
Throughout his career, Fisher has proven that, while being a professional athlete can sometimes test one’s faith, it’s having perseverance through any troubling time that defines who you are. Fisher not only gives his all to his career, but also to his family, his community and most importantly, God.
Written in association with Justin B. Bradford
Header Photo Credit: Room In The Inn