Dusan Benicky, born April 14, 1953, grew up in a remote part of Slovakia in a small town called Dunajec. From a young age, his father instilled the importance of sport in him with many types of various sports such as White-Water Kayaking races, Ice hockey, and soccer just to name a few. Sport became very important to Dusan, as becoming a star athlete was everyone’s ticket out of living in socialistic country. Since this was the case, the entire country was internally motivated to become very good at sports so they could compete at the highest level, travel and leave the country. The government also supported sport, as it was a marketing tool for their nationalistic pride. If Slovakia was producing high level athletes, it would mean that they have the best athletic programs, and it could draw people to want to come there.
Life was hard for Dusan and his sister growing up. Him and his sister had to walk 7 Kilometeres to and from school every day since they lived far and did not have a car. It would take them minimum one hour each way, most days in the snowy winter even longer. However, this experience helped build character and instilled a mental toughness in Dusan, and showed him that as long as you stay determined and disciplined you will be able to accomplish your goals.
That being said, every day after school, Dusan would come home, drop his bags off, and go outside to play street hockey and work on his hockey skills for numerous hours a day. He and his friends would play other sports as well, such as tag, soccer, kick the can, but he fell in love and became obsessed with developing his hockey skills. Dusan was basically training by himself for hours on end on his pure determination, will and discipline to improve his game. This type of internal motivation is something he prides himself on, as it has helped shape him into the person he is today.
In 1980, Dusan escaped from Czech Slovakia and decided to come to Canada. The big reason why he decided to come to Canada was because of freedom, but also, he was aware of Canada’s hockey culture and he wanted to pursue a career path teaching the sport that he fell in love with as a child. Hockey was also a symbol of freedom and art to Dusan, with the numerous ways you can express yourself on the ice.
His first job as a new immigrant was working a labour job at a bottle factory in Burnaby. When the company decided to go on strike, he decided to look for coaching opportunities as hockey was his passion and he did not want to produce bottles for the rest of his life.
He then proceeded to send out over 500 letters to hockey associations in Canada with his resume, and only got about 12 responses back. Nobody was interested in bringing a new immigrant in for a coaching job. So, Dusan decided to volunteer with Point Grey Hockey Association in 1982. This was a big sacrifice as he had a young family and since it was a volunteer job, he wouldn’t be making any money. His wife, Angelika, and he had to spend money for a car as they lived in Coquitlam, so he had transportation to Vancouver. After having great results with Point Grey Hockey Association, his passion for the game was noticed, and he was offered an interview at the UBC School of Human Kinetics.
Dusan then stated at this interview that they start teaching kids about better nutrition, body composition, power outcome, and conditioning. The School of Human Kinetics were so impressed that they then proceeded to offer him a job to become a lab assistant to help athletes improve and maximize the potential for all of these areas. He then became responsible for rehab programs for many notable athletes, such as Pavel Bure, and started to work with Canadian Swimmers on their body composition, monitoring their training processes and how to train specifically to achieve their best results.
Through his work with Pavel Bure and high-level swimmers, the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League eventually took notice and started working with Dusan on physiological profiling and conditioning for their athletes. He worked with numerous Canucks players such as Pavel Bure, and Markus Naslund. It was through his work in the hockey community and with many athletes that Canlan Ice Sports took notice and reached out to Dusan to run their Skate Mill Program. The skate mill business wasn’t doing as well as they should have been, and they wanted him to come in and help revitalize their program. It was then that he started to research and study if the skate mill could actually correlate with improving on-ice performance. He then discovered through his research and studies that the skatemill can be used to enhance on-ice performance and decided to take the job.
Fast forward to today, Dusan still has a very high passion and love for teaching the game of hockey and helping athletes improve. Hockey Performance Centre is built on the traits of determination, discipline, and integrity, all things that Dusan was taught by his father and learned at a young age growing up in a remote part of Slovakia.