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10/16/2018, 4:30pm EDT
By Mike Ross

In life, we have many decisions to make. Whether its who we are as people, who we associate with or what sports we choose to play but arguably the most important thing in a young person’s life is where they decided to drop in Fortnite. Dylan Southern likes to drop at Tilted Towers. Which right off the bat tells you a few things about him like, he’s in it to win it, there’s no hiding in the bushes for him, and this man loves carnage. Dylan claims he has 50 solo wins in Fortnite (I have 6 solo wins. Not a big deal) which remains to be seen but we’ll take his word for it.

Dylan is a senior at Brandon High school and as we know seniors are challenged with what to do with their lives after high school for Dylan when he is done with high school this year, he said with authority “I am going to join to the military. The Air Force to be more specific and I’ll either be in the cyber-security division or as a pararescue/combat rescue troop.” 

Cindy Eccles (Earth-Life Studios)

When he told me that I was blown away because let’s be real, those are two completely different jobs. I asked him to go into what excites him or interests him about the possibility of going down a road with either of these two potential jobs. “Well, I have always been really fascinated with computer and earth sciences, so I can really see myself going down either one of those paths. What intrigues me about the cyber-security side that it is a pivotal piece in military intelligence in various ways and of course it goes without saying there is a minimal amount of risk in that job class but on the other hand I love the thought of being pararescue troop for the simple fact that in combat, if someone is injured in combat, those that are tasked with saving lives are the true definition of heroes to me and within that I would become a medic so that’s cool. Either route I choose, I know that I will have a promising career ahead of me in the private sector.” An important factor, as well as the most influential person in Dylan’s life who inspired his passion for joining the military, is his step-dad who embodied a strong visual for him throughout all of his life. Whether it was being able to defend your country, see the world, or learn a set of values that you will carry for a lifetime. His stepdad who served as a marine insisted that Dylan join the Air Force, “If you really want to do something to better yourself and grow, go Air Force.”

In school, his favorite subjects are math and history. More specifically he has a passion for American History and the American Revolution. “It is so fascinating to learn or study about how the colonists fought for freedom and independence. There’s just so much to learn from former battles and you can always learn from the past.”

To dive deeper into why it was Dylan wanted to go into the service besides the fact it is awesome that he wants to defend our nation. I wanted to see what his interests are and what excites him “Honestly, simple and plain. I am an adrenaline junkie. I love anything and everything that gets my blood going! I grew up racing dirt bikes. I played football and now I play hockey to get my adrenaline fix. As of late, nothing has got me going more than going on the road with Team Tampa Bay in St. Louis as well as Boston. When we are playing against those teams from across the country, everyone on our team including myself needs to be playing at their best because just like us our opponents are trying to win those games and win that tournament. So, knowing that everyone around me on the ice is bringing their A-game and going pedal to the metal it really brings the best out me.” 

 It’s safe to say hockey is a large part in Dylan’s life. It started way back when he was just a little boy when he was introduced to rollerblading which turned into roller hockey and it’s all just one continuous cycle of his growth into the hockey player is he is today. When I asked Dylan what his favorite things about hockey is and he had only one thing to say, “Winning. There is nothing like winning. It doesn’t matter how you get it as long as you do.” I asked Dylan, if he would rather score a goal or set up the play for the goal and he responded “It really doesn’t matter to me as long as the outcome is the same but if I have to choose, I would go with setting up the goal and getting the assist because usually that requires all the hard work and that’s what it is all about.” I dove deeper into that by asking him if there was one player he tried to model his game after and it took all of half a second for him respond, “Marty St. Louis. He is my favorite player of all time, he is a grinder, he was always setting his teammates up to score, and he is a leader. I want my game to look everything like his.”

Since we’re on the topic of leadership and being a leader, another fun fact about Dylan is that he is the captain of the Durant Cougars. That is something he takes great pride in and something his Durant coach, Todd Comunale was happy to award him,” I’ve watched Dylan play since he was a peewee rec league player at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. He has worked hard to become quite an exceptional hockey player, currently skating for the U18AA Crunch program up in Wesley Chapel and the EDP program for the LHSHL. He is, without a doubt, the leader of the Durant squad.  His hard work and dedication in practice combined with his vocal leadership on-ice and in the locker room have been vital to the team’s success so far this season.  As good as he is as a hockey player, he is an even better person. 

Dylan is a compassionate individual who truly cares about his teammates both within and outside the confines of the ice rink.  He has been there for support when teammates are going through something difficult in their lives and were not afraid to approach his head coach to speak candidly about concerns within the locker room after an early-season setback.   He's the type of leader any coach would love to have in their program and I just can't say enough good things about him.  As the head coach, I value the relationship he and I have and will sorely miss him next season after he graduates this Spring.”

We all have important people in our lives who influence us or those who we look up to, most of the time it’s from coaches, teacher, parents, and adults that we spend ample time with. For Dylan, it is the same and more. He says some of the players he has played with or against have really shaped him into the player he is today and to be specific he singles out Andrew Miranda. I reached out to Mr. Miranda to tell me a little about Dylan Southern and this is what he had to say, 

“I’ve had the pleasure of not only knowing him but also the chance to play with him. I was able to see him grow not only as a player but as a person as well. I’ve played against him in the regular season (as Bloomingdale and Durant are natural rivals) and got to see him go from a young player to a real threat for any team to play against. I always knew when he was on the ice and would try to stick to him knowing he can set a play up for his team or if he gets open, put the puck in the back of my net. He’s really stepped his game up not only on the ice but off it as well. Being on the all-star team with him last year really showed me what a good leader he has become, whether that be talking to teammates or asking questions to his superiors, he has learned a lot. He’s on every team's radar this next season and I’m excited to see what he has to show in his senior year playing with Durant.”

I had a grand ole time sitting down and speaking with him for this piece. I got to know Dylan a bit over the summer when we traveled as a team to Boston for the Chowder Cup in Boston. But it wasn’t until our interview that I really got a chance to know him better. We at the LHSHL congratulate Dylan on making the Elite Development Program (EDP) roster in its inaugural year. We are truly looking forward to Dylan bringing his talents as well as his leadership skills to the team this year!

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