Prolific Scorer Wakabayashi Took Path Less Travelled
Brian Swane, Special to Canada West
In 1989, Stacey Wakabayashi was at the pinnacle of amateur
His resume already included a WHL championship, a Spengler
Cup title, and a University Cup gold medal, and now he was
capping his career at the University of Alberta by leading the
country in scoring while being named the most outstanding
university hockey player in Canada.
Pro hockey would surely seem the high-scoring centre’s next
step. The big league was, after all, the dream of every player, and
Wakabayashi had shown better than most of them.
Except the education student thought di erently than pretty
much all of them.
“There were opportunities to try and play in the minor systems
on the farm teams and to play over in Europe,” says the native of
100 Mile House, B.C.
“But that experience (at the U of A) was so positive, and I thought
I had done as much as any amateur player could do … by the
end of my fth year I was ready to enter into my teaching career
and without any regrets.”
Not a moment has been spent looking back at what might have
been since Wakabayashi stepped o the ice and into the teaching
profession, returning from Edmonton to British Columbia, nearly
30 years ago. For the past decade he has served as senior teacher
consultant for the Provincial Outreach Program for Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder (POPFASD).
“It’s tremendous having the opportunity to travel the province
and share e ective teaching practices with any educator in B.C.
who wants to listen to us,” says Wakabayashi, who previously
worked as a special education and elementary school teacher.
“It’s been such an amazing experience to take what I learned
from teaching regular classrooms in a challenging setting
and sharing that knowledge, skills and experience with other
teachers around teaching kids with that particular disability.”
Wakabayashi’s hockey career was as a short as it was spectacular.
In his one full season of major junior hockey, with Kamloops, he
36 CANADA WEST YEARBOOK
piled up 32 goals and 70 points in the regular season and helped
the Junior Oilers win their rst President’s Cup. He then made
the jump to university, where Alberta competed at the national
championship in four of his ve seasons, winning it all in 1986.
A three-time Canada West First Team All-Star, Wakabayashi set
the conference career records for goals (107), assists (143), and
points (250), the latter of which still stands today.
His 1988-89 campaign ranks alongside any other in the annals
of Canadians university men’s hockey. Wakabayashi was tops
in the nation with 111 total points, including 79 in the regular
season, which remains the second highest such total in Canada
West history. Awards came aplenty from near and far: Senator
Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy (outstanding university hockey player
in Canada); The Hockey News Canadian University Player of
the year; Wilson Challenge Trophy (U of A’s most outstanding
male athlete); and UBC Hockey Alumni Trophy (recognizing
sportsmanship and ability in Canada West).
“I was reluctant to receive those recognitions, because to me that
was just my role on the team,” Wakabayashi says. “My role on
the team was to produce o ensively, and my contribution was
no more than the guys that were penalty killers or hard-working
checkers, and our goaltenders. My role just happened to be the
one where you typically get some of that recognition.
“For me, all of those individual recognitions and
accomplishments are simply a re ection of people around me,
and that’s how we’re all taught.”
For that, he credits legendary Golden Bears coach Clare Drake.
The two met at a hockey camp when Wakabayashi was just 14,
and stayed in touch, with Drake sending a card to the player
every year, even after Wakabayashi had reached the WHL.
While he loved being part of the Oilers and had junior eligibility
remaining when he won the championship as an 18-yearold
with Kamloops in 1984, Wakabayashi was already a year
removed from graduating Grade 12 and didn’t want to be out of
school for long.
The decision of whether to enter university took some thought.
The decision of where to enroll did not.
“Because of that connection with coach Drake, there wasn’t a
question, Alberta is where I wanted to go” says Wakabayashi,