Most people have certain days they will never forget, dates that are forever etched into their minds. June 23, 2018 will probably be one of those days for Bode Wilde.
It was, after all, the day he got drafted – in the second round, 41st pick – to play in the National Hockey League for the New York Islanders.
“To get picked to a team like the Islanders is pretty incredible,” Wilde said. “There’s a lot of history there. They are a pretty good, young team, so I’m just really excited.”
“Excited” was a word Wilde used often during our interview, but can you blame him? He’s now part of the NHL.
No longer will he just be watching players like Seth Jones and Charlie McAvoy – two of his current favorites – but competing against them.
“I mean, you watch these guys on TV making plays that you can’t even really imagine trying to pull off in a game,” he said. “Knowing you have to be the guy who has to defend that pretty soon is, I guess…there’s a bit of nerves there, but more than anything, I’m excited.”
There it is again.
Thankfully, Wilde, like many in the NHL, has been training for this since childhood.
Spending the first 12 years of his life in Montreal, Wilde was put in skis before hockey skates – both of his parents were involved with coaching and instructing skiing. When he was three, though, his dad put him in ice skates for the first time and went to the local rink.
“I think my first time on the ice I was like, ‘What is this?’ But every time after that he’d have to try and catch me to get me off the ice,” Wilde said.
When Wilde was 12 the family moved to Birmingham, where he went to Derby Middle School and joined the Belle Tire hockey program, before hockey took him to Canton, followed by Chicago, then back to Michigan, when he joined USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
Since Wilde is originally from Canada he had the choice between playing for them and the U.S. But Michigan is home now.
“Ultimately, I choose the U.S. because I felt like an American,” he said. “The program itself I thought was going to be very good for my development.”
His two years in that program ended up being influential to his hockey success. They were also some of his favorite hockey memories to date.
“Playing for the U.S. national team was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever had the chance to do,” he said. “There’s a lot of history behind that program and pride that comes with that jersey. That was really special.”
Winning doesn’t hurt either. This year alone the team placed first at the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament in Plymouth in February, and was recently awarded silver at the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Men's World Championship, which was held in Russia this past April.
Now though, the NHL is his main focus. During our interview he had just gotten back from development camp, a chance to meet the team and coaching staff. He was told it’s about to get a lot more grueling come September. Wilde didn’t seem to mind though.
“The fact that I get to do this, until hopefully my body really doesn’t let me anymore, is honestly, the coolest thing ever, for me to really be in this position,” he said. “It’s not every day you get a chance at that.”