By: Athletic Communications Student-Assistant Cannon Dees '20
Baldwin Wallace University Athletic Communications Assistant Louie Abounader has been selected to play for the Lebanese National Ice Hockey team for the 2020 Arab Cup.
Abounader, who first got the opportunity to represent Lebanon two years ago in an exhibition game, will get his first taste of international competition on February 2-8 in the host country of Kuwait.
The opportunity arose a couple months ago when Head Coach Ralph Melki got in touch with Abounader about potentially playing in the Arab Cup. Luckily, the tryouts were in Abounader's hometown of Quebec, Montreal, Canada, over the holiday break while he was home to visit family. After showcasing his talents, he was offered a spot on the team days later.
Although born in Canada, his Lebanese heritage comes from his dad's side. Both his grandfather and grandmother came to North America from Lebanon as young adults. Abounader finally attained his own Lebanese citizenship less than two months ago for the tournament as the groundwork had taken some time to establish.
"My mother is an attorney and was helping one of my father's cousins in Lebanon retrieve some land under his name," he said. "Working on the case, she became very familiar with the Lebanese consulate in Montreal and was able to officially attain me Lebanese citizenship."
Abounader has played hockey for as long as he can remember. After playing on a regional team in Montreal for most of his youth, his hours spent on the ice skyrocketed in high school with a program called "Sports-Études", which is French for "Sports-Studies." As a result of this program, half of his day was spent in the classroom while the other half was on the ice.
"I was playing nine times a week between my school and regional teams," he claimed. "I overloaded on hockey in the preliminary stages for sure."
However, at 17 years old, a serious back injury left Abounader sidelined for several months.
"That was a pretty big year for me because that was the year prior to junior hockey," he said. "In most cases, for you to be successful in your hockey career, especially coming out of Quebec, playing at the junior level is very important."
As a result of the injury, Abounader found himself cut from a top team in the region, which brought him to the United States. Reluctant to try and play junior hockey again, he attended Gilmour Academy in Cleveland and played for their preparatory team. Following his stop in Cleveland, the Canadian found himself playing on the varsity ice hockey team at the NCAA Division III level for Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts. After two years, he transferred to Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to play Division I hockey in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and complete his undergraduate education. After graduation, he attended the University of Louisville, where he played two more years of hockey at the ACHA Division II level while completing his Master of Science degree in sport administration. With his love of front-office sport administration taking precedent, Abounader stepped away from competitive hockey to focus on his career. However, he does stay sharp by playing in high-level local men's leagues.
Abounader is excited to not only represent Lebanon, but to reconnect with his extended Lebanese family that also live in Cleveland.
"I'm very proud of my Lebanese heritage," he said. "I may not speak Arabic or fully exhibit all Lebanese cultural things, but I'm excited that I finally have a chance to interact with my Lebanese family members. This is a very proud moment for me to represent not only myself, but my entire family as well."
As part of the Athletic Communications staff at Baldwin Wallace, Abounader is the primary contact for the Yellow Jacket men's and women's cross country, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's track and field and women's basketball teams.