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Jarome Iginla
As told to Brian Cazeneuve
March 05, 2007
The three-time all-star and fledgling yogi leads the Calgary Flames with 30 goals—including two in a win over San Jose last week
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March 05, 2007

Jarome Iginla

The three-time all-star and fledgling yogi leads the Calgary Flames with 30 goals—including two in a win over San Jose last week

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On the right wing's full name: Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tij Junior Elvis Iginla
Arthur-Leigh was my dad's middle name. Adekunle was his first name in Nigeria before he came here [at age 18]; then he changed it to Elvis because he thought it was cool. Tij, which we named our [seven-month-old] son, was short for Tijani, the name of my dad's dad in Nigeria. Iginla means "big tree" [in Yoruba].

On his parents, who divorced when he was a year old
My dad is a lawyer specializing in injury law. He's really good at Ping-Pong. I used to play tournaments with my teammates [on the Flames], and he was better than any of us. My mom [Susan, originally from Oregon] was a massage therapist who went back to school to be a music teacher. She sang the [Canadian and U.S. national] anthems at one of our games [in 2000]. We were playing the Rangers, and it was on Hockey Night in Canada. I've never been so nervous before a game, thinking, Mom, please hit every note and don't forget the words!

On his musical experience
I grew up in Edmonton with my grandma, my mom and my aunt involved with music. They put me in a local music festival every year from grades one to seven. I sang or read poetry. It was cool being in front of people like that, but it was hard. My grandma had incentives, like buying me a new Walkman or something.

On playing baseball in addition to hockey as a child
I was mostly a catcher and a pitcher, and I played a little shortstop [on a travel team]. I dreamed of being like a Bo Jackson and one day playing hockey and baseball. I loved them equally, and I stayed with baseball until I was about 17. Hockey in Canada is so physical and intense. Baseball is intense in a different way.

On being an Edmonton kid and playing for the archrival Flames
I grew up an Oilers fan, and I never would have imagined playing for Calgary. It took a long time to convert some of my friends and family members. Some I've just given up on converting. They give me the token, "Oh, yeah, we're cheering for both teams," but it's easy to see where the real allegiances lie.

On his first NHL game, in 1996
We had [been eliminated] in juniors the night before. The Flames told me I was going to come up [during the playoffs] and watch. It's common to bring young guys up to get a sense of the atmosphere. So my junior teammates and I went out to celebrate the season. I had an early flight the next morning for an afternoon game in Calgary [against the Blackhawks]. I was tired, but I didn't expect to play. I came off the plane, and they told me, "O.K., you're going to play." I thought, Oh, my God. It was good that I didn't have a chance to get nervous. It was such a whirlwind. I went into the dressing room late because I had to sign my contract. I'm trying to meet the guys, who are already half-dressed, and they're saying, "Just get ready." The night before I'm watching on TV as a fan, wondering if I'll ever get to play in the NHL, watching Theo [Fleury], [Chris] Chelios, [Ed] Belfour, [Jeremy] Roenick. The next day I'm playing on the same ice as them. [Iginla had an assist in Calgary's 7--5 loss.]

On playing in the Olympics twice
Awesome. The best experience was probably the gold medal game against the U.S. [in Salt Lake City] in 2002. We hadn't won gold in 50 years. Half the crowd were Canadian fans, half were U.S. fans. They had painted faces. They were singing before the game. There was such passion. That was the most exciting game I've ever been a part of. We wanted to win so bad. [They did, 5--2.]

On the hockey school he runs during the summer in Calgary
We have kids ages six to 12, a lot who are just starting. It's not about just trying to put the puck in the net—it's about having fun. They love the speed, being able to crash around. Sports for kids sometimes get a little too serious, and my wife [Kara] and I wanted our school not to be. We want to teach skills, but we believe the more fun the kids are having, the harder they'll work and the better they'll get without even trying.

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