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ALUMNUS SPOTLIGHT: Ben Fanelli

Ben Fanelli is a household name here in KW—not only because of his time with the Kitchener Rangers but also because of his continued work throughout our community.

After hockey ended, Ben sought out a way to fill the void. He went on to attempt business after business, but nothing stuck. Until a conversation with a friend created a spark for Fanelli.

“One day my buddy said why don’t you try a podcast, you enjoy public speaking and working through problems. It has just snowballed to what it is today,” said Fanelli. “My podcast gives me the opportunity to talk to people about different types of adversities. It has been an incredible experience for me.”

Fanelli’s podcast, Heroic Minds, is an intimate interview format where Ben and his guest discuss the hardships and adversity they have gone through in their life. He uses the platform to inspire his listeners to know that you can overcome anything that comes your way. His guests discuss how they have dealt with their struggles and have found a way to come out on the other side.

“This whole podcast has changed my life. I could go through the entire list of all 52 guests so far and pick out a message that has changed how I’ve acted once or twice in my life,” smiled Ben. “It has made me a better person all around, to the point where I need less. I hear these stories, and I don’t see as much value in things. There is value in experiences and relationships. Those two things mixed together make life better.”

Heroic Minds has been a therapeutic process not only for his guests and listeners but also for Ben himself. Adversity and hardships are inevitable in the world we live in today, but one lesson Ben has learned is the concept of figuring it out as you go.

“We often think we have to learn how to be resilient or how to overcome adversity, but all my guests have gone through hardships without knowing how they would get through it. They just figured it out along the way,” said Ben. “It is pretty amazing.”

The podcast has helped Ben in other ways too. As an assistant coach with the University of Waterloo men’s hockey team, Ben finds ways to translate those lessons into his coaching style—specifically in how he speaks with his players.

“I don’t worry too much about what I’m going to say; it is all about how you say it. Even if I have to deliver the worst news to one of my players, how you say it is going to determine everything,” said Ben.

“You look at the science side of it. Seventy percent of what we say and what we understand is how we hear and see it. That has been a big part of my leadership lessons within my coaching.”

The decision to stay in K-W for Ben has been a no-brainer. The Kitchener Rangers organization has been a significant part of that.

“I have said it many times, I used to be worried what I would do in a life without hockey. The Rangers have allowed me to realize there is a life after hockey and for me that is priceless. I might not have been in as good of a position as I am now if it wasn’t for the Rangers.”

Ben is an inspiration to many in this community, and he is excited for the future.

Whether Ben is behind the bench or behind the mic, he is looking to inspire and remind us that we can all be the heroes of our own story.

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