Standing on the precipice of what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest moments in their lives, Steve and Tina Fabbro are remarkably relaxed.
Their youngest child, Dante, is expected to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo today but they know their energy is wasted concerning themselves over things that are out of their influence.
“You know what? I’m pretty calm today,” says Steve. “It’s out of your control; but just to be here and maybe have that opportunity to get picked in the first round is a pretty special thing for parents and for our family.”
It’s the culmination of about 15 years of games, practices, training and tournaments – things Dante took to quite clearly early on.
“It’s been pretty amazing, but I think at age three he would have slept with rollerblades on and then he’d put his skates on and then it was just no turning back,” says Tina. “We started to put him in skating lessons and then they (instructors) came and said, ‘Well I don’t think he needs lessons, what about tiny-tot hockey?’ And that was the end of it, he just rolled from there.”
All kids, and maybe their families, allow themselves to dream that maybe they could be among the very few that find themselves at the NHL Draft. That began to look like more of a firm possibility in Dante’s mid-teen years.
“Dante played his minor hockey at the Burnaby Winter Club and had some good success… when he went on to major midget and had exceptionally good success there, you start thinking maybe he has a chance to further his hockey career,” says Steve. “One of the big things was getting the opportunity to play for team Canada. The under-17s was huge, the World Junior A Challenge a couple of times.
“Then with Penticton he got to play in the RBC Cup and then on the U18 Ivan Hlinka (team, which won gold), and the World Championships in North Dakota. Each time he was on one of those stages, he had some good success. He works hard and is a good teammate… I think he’s shown himself to be in that level of players.”
Being a part of the draft allows the Fabbros an unique family experience as well. Dante’s older sisters, Gina and Sophia – soccer players at NCAA Austin Peay in Tennessee – are here to support their little brother.
“It’s the best, just to all be together,” says Tina. “I’m so proud of all my kids but just to be here for this with the girls and enjoy this moment with Dante is pretty special. I feel pretty privileged to be here and enjoy all this.”
Dante and close friend and teammate Tyson Jost, also expected to go in the first round Friday night, have been enjoying it too. Despite the many demands on their time this week, they’ve managed to savour the experience. Thursday the pair spoke to pretty much every TSN radio outlet in Canada, appeared at an event for New Era caps, and made it back to the hotel for a spot with the TSN 1040 Vancouver crew, out of breath after running up the street in dress shoes as the New Era event went long.
“I think they’ve really enjoyed their time here,” says Steve. “They really feel honoured to be here and they want to give their time because it’s an important time for them, but they just want to be part of it, they want to enjoy it, they’re kids that are living their dream out and it’s a fun time for them. They’re really having a good time.”
And the time, as the Fabbros are starting to feel, is drawing near for that big moment tonight when Dante finds out a big part of what his future will hold.
“I’m pretty calm usually,” says Tina. “But now being here the rest of the day, I think I’m starting to get a bit more nervous for him. But it’s pretty neat.”
So the Fabbro family is on the clock. Nothing left to do but enjoy the time.