As a youngster, living in St. John’s, Nfld. and dreaming of a future playing professional hockey, Colin Greening didn’t expect that he would be attending one of the top private high schools in the country.
“I remember my father took me to a prospects hockey tournament in Prince Edward Island and people were talking about Upper Canada College,” said Greening. “I didn’t know anything about UCC, but my father was excited and so we visited the school.
“I had just turned 17 and saw everyone at UCC in ties and jackets. I took a deep breath and knew I wasn’t in St. John’s. But, after touring the campus, I had a really good feeling and was sold on attending.”
Turns out, it was the best move Greening made — and those are his words.
“Yes, I would (attend UCC again), fantastic memories and it was the best move I made,” said Greening, who now lives in Chicago in the summer and, in the cooler part of the year, resides in Toronto.
“I was independent for the first time, a teenager away from home and the lifestyle was very different for me — but UCC taught me how to work hard, focus on priorities, the academics were demanding – and I still got to play hockey.”
Talking about hockey, Greening did see his wish come true – and it was the hard work and determination that helped.
In 2005, the Ottawa Senators picked Greening in the seventh round, 204th overall in the National Hockey League entry draft.
But his priority was to complete his education. After graduating from UCC, Greening would later get his business degree from Cornell University. At the Ithaca, N.Y school, he also played all four seasons without missing a game before making his pro hockey debut in Newark against New Jersey in 2011.
Greening returned to Toronto in 2016, and again it would be wearing the blue and white colours of UCC. But this time, it was in a Maple Leaf uniform – in the trade that sent Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa.
For Greening, a forward, top scorer at UCC and chosen to the Toronto Star hockey all-star squad, he moved on to play for Nanaimo in the British Columbia Hockey League, then shuffled off to Cornell, had a season in Binghamton in the American Hockey League and played in Denmark in 2012/13. As for Ottawa, he played six seasons.
But Greening said UCC would always be something special to him.
“(UCC) was a blessing in disguise,” said Greening. “High school in Newfoundland and then high school at UCC — it was a huge change. But it was UCC, and I remember the amount of work was challenging, that got me on the right path. Going there was one of the best decisions, if not the best, in my life.”
Also a striker on the UCC soccer team that won a Canadian private school championship, and top scorer in both seasons that he played, Greening would give up the ball and cleats and chose to focus on the stick and skates.
“The biggest sports highlight for me at UCC was in my first year and scoring the winning goal in overtime over Nichols (Buffalo) for the league championship — and it was right in their own rink,” said Greening.
“Sports and school were great for me at UCC, but I also came away with good friends and remain close to lots of them.”
As for his post-hockey career, right now Greening is thinking about a consulting role in the area of nutrition and healthy living.