As one of the first MM27 Ambassadors, Isaac Ratcliffe joined the Movement to start the 2017-18 season and has since been one of the strongest influences behind the organization.
Originally speaking up as an Ambassador in September 2017, Ratcliffe – at the time, only a few months removed from being selected as a second round (35th overall) pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft – discussed the personal challenges he faced entering the Ontario Hockey League as a 16-year-old rookie in 2015, ranging from moving away from home, the feeling of missing out, and the difficult thought of not living up to your potential.
“It’s important for people to realize that young athletes still struggle with the stress of every day life, and it’s important for young athletes to realize that they can still ask for help,” the London, Ontario native offered.
The six-foot-six, 204-pound winger, now an OHL graduate currently playing for the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms with the Flyers organization, talked about having older teammates, friends, and his parents as a grounding presence during the challenges along the way.
Ratcliffe joined the Movement in order to speak out for those who feel they may not be able to.
“I want to be a voice for young athletes out there who don’t have anywhere to turn to.”
Since, Ratcliffe followed in McFadden’s footsteps as the 28th captain in Guelph Storm history for the 2018-19 season, leading the team to a remarkable and historic 2019 OHL Championship title, while also continuing to set a standard off the ice as an example in the community.
Ratcliffe was recognized as the OHL’s Mickey Renaud Captain’s trophy recipient for his leadership on and off the ice, while also earning the Storm’s Mike Kelly Humanitarian of the Year award – a recognition given three times previously to McFadden, a friend and mentor for Ratcliffe.
“Following in [Garrett McFadden’s] footsteps, I saw how he carried himself on and off the ice, and in the community – that was my goal, to continue how he used to lead this team and how he is as a person,” Ratcliffe said in an interview regarding his captaincy honours for the Storm. “He acted as one of my mentors – he really taught me how to play in this league and how to act in the community. He really brought the whole McFadden’s Movement thing to life, but even before that, there was a lot of other things he brought to the table with his leadership, and just the way he cared for other players, and put everyone else before himself.”
“He was the first guy that I talked to on the first day I got to Guelph and he’s been my best friend ever since.”
Letting his actions speak just as loud as his words, Ratcliffe has taken on a leading role with the Movement, standing in for various appearances in the community, serving as a voice for the mental health conversation, and incredibly, personally donating over $1500 to the Movement over the last two years through social media campaigns of his own, with the most recent donation of $1157.50 in January 2019.
“He is always willing to go the extra mile and give much more than he ever gets back,” McFadden said of Ratcliffe. “For me, he was a great support when McFadden’s Movement came to reality and was immediately interested in how he could get involved. It was awesome to have him involved in the message we were trying to promote, and he has gone so far out of his way to help spread our message.”
“He sets the example for younger players and has helped to be a pillar in why the Storm are so prominent in the community,” McFadden continued. “His effort and leadership along with involvement in the community reflects his character as one of the most selfless and caring teammates I have ever played with.”
But for Ratcliffe, it’s simply been about doing the right thing.
“It’s making sure everyone was accounted for before yourself,” Ratcliffe said in an interview about his 2018-19 Mike Kelly Humanitarian of the Year honour. “I think once you do that, once you make everyone else feel comfortable, it makes you smile a little bit more too, and it makes everyone else around you smile, which in turn makes you a little bit happier as well.”