Sebastian Jovicic started playing hockey at five years old, after being introduced to the game by his grandfather. He grew up a multi-sport athlete, playing soccer and hockey until he was 12. Although he was still young, he knew, at the time, that he preferred the teamwork and contact aspects of hockey. So when the time commitment forced him to choose between the two sports, he decided to stick with hockey.
Although hockey was not a family custom, Jovicic attributes his hockey success to his learned work ethic and athleticism from being born into a family of athletes. His father moved from Bosnia to Sweden to play soccer and his brother currently plays soccer at the highest junior level in Sweden. His sister, who caught a variation of the hockey bug, plays floorball, a type of hockey played on an indoor court. Throughout his and his siblings’ lives, their family environment emphasized discipline, commitment and consistent practice that is required from athletes. Eventually, those characteristics, coupled with his skill, landed him on the prospect lists of many teams.
Earlier this year, a scout found the defenseman after watching him play in Sweden and suggested he consider playing for the Rhinos. Shortly thereafter, he was headed to El Paso for the final year of his junior career. “I always wanted to play in the US. It’s my first senior year in Sweden but it’s also my last junior year in the US and I wanted to finish juniors in the States.”
When he arrived, like many other players, Jovicic was surprised at the community support the Rhinos have garnered. “Here, it’s so different from Swedish hockey. It’s more like family here than a team. Communicating with the community and engaging with the fans, we don’t do that in Sweden. We just don’t have the same fanbase there and here, you’re humanized. People get to actually know you. The respect of this club that the community has is unbelievable.”
Worldly, with a knack for learning, Jovicic is most intrigued by culture in the United States and in El Paso. “I moved away when I was 17 but now, I am learning culture, and about different foods, and how people are in other countries.” In his little free time, he tries to explore El Paso by watching American football and baseball and taking in the sight of the mountains. He also works at improving his English, although it is already excellent. “People come up to me here. And it’s much easier to speak English when you get approached than when having to approach other people.” El Paso’s unique border town culture and unmistakable Mexican influence also has the Swede hoping to visit Mexico at the end of the season before he travels back home to Europe.
Following his final year of junior hockey, Jovicic is considering playing collegiate hockey in the United States. “I would love the opportunity to get an education and play hockey. We don’t have that in Sweden.” His end goal is to continue playing hockey in Austria, Norway or France. Intrigued by the culture, people, scenery and landscapes of these countries, Jovicic would be able to pursue his passion of playing hockey and traveling by furthering his career in one of these picturesque nations.