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Leier balancing hockey with promoting healthy living

Photo: Micheline V/Rochester Americans

by Suzie Cool | AHL On The Beat

Imagine being able to eat cookies every single day of your life and never gaining a pound. That’d be pretty sweet, right?

Well, as it turns out, this could potentially be an actual possibility.

Prior to his professional hockey career, Rochester Americans forward Taylor Leier and his best friend, Austin Calladine, shared a vision of starting a health-based business to provide consumers with healthy alternative snacks. But with Leier soon being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Draft, it became more difficult for him to make both dreams become a reality with hockey consuming most of his life.

But before we dive too much into that, let’s first go back to the summer of 2019. Leier had just finished up his fifth year in professional hockey after splitting the 2018-19 season between two organizations. Acquired by the Buffalo Sabres in a midseason trade from Philadelphia, Leier scored a career-high 22 goals in 69 games between with the Amerks and Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

But as his fifth professional season came to an end, like most players, Leier made his way back to his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where ice time is limited. And with limited ice time comes the different ways to ensure that a player still gets the conditioning needed in order to be fully prepared before the season starts up again – like rollerblading not too far from home.

And that’s the exact moment when reality hit.

As the Amerks forward was out rollerblading, a rock became lodged in his blade and down he went. In an effort to brace his fall, Leier threw out his hand, which led to his shoulder blade completely coming out of place and an immediate trip to the emergency room. About a week would pass before an MRI was taken to reveal the damage done, and after the results were examined, surgery was performed just another week later.

With surgery always comes the aftermath of rehabbing your body back to health, and while Leier was doing all he could to get his body back into hockey shape, he decided to approach a company called Sweet Nutrition, a start-up founded by his friends Calladine and Casey Parker.

“This past summer when I was rehabbing my injury, I had a lot of extra time,” said Leier. So, I decided to approach Austin and Casey because as a start-up business I knew that they would need an investor and the health and wellness industry is something I’m very passionate about.”

Sweet Nutrition is a Canada-based company that has created delicious-tasting snacks with even better ingredients. After Calladine and Parker tried out the “9-to-5” life, they decided to embark on something that they were both extremely passionate about while trying to help create a healthier lifestyle for those that regularly crave desserts.

Starting out locally in Saskatchewan during the summer of 2018, Sweet Nutrition became nationwide throughout Canada in February of last year. Now a reliable retail seller online and located in over 200 locations throughout Canada, Sweet Nutrition cookies can be found in three different flavors – chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and peanut butter. Not to forget, their color scheme of bright blue and orange is quick to catch your eye.

“Our brand is basically a healthy alternative with clean ingredients and it’s for everyone, whether you’re an athlete or a person who lives a more regular everyday lifestyle. They’re great-tasting and we try to keep them as clean as possible, while still trying to make them like a sweet treat,” said Leier.

As the official co-owner, Leier is a presence that’s out and about in the community, which enables him to market the Sweet Nutrition brand quite easily while still being a professional hockey player. For him it’s as simple as posting a picture to Instagram for his 16,000 followers to see, handing out a list to his teammates who want to put clean ingredients in their body or simply just wearing a bright blue sweatshirt with the word “Sweet” across the front that will catch people’s eyes, and boom, there’s another point of sale for the brand.

Although hockey will always come first, Sweet Nutrition has given Leier the ability to make that second dream of his a reality and has helped take his mind away from the game of hockey when need be.

“Obviously hockey means everything to me, aside from family, but I wanted to find something that I was passionate about and that could take my mind away from thinking about hockey all of the time. This is my sixth year pro and each year I’ve become more interested and knowledgeable outside of the game. Sweet Nutrition definitely fits my brand and I think I fit their brand as well.”

Although Sweet Nutrition has just a small menu of products to choose from now, there are ideas in the works to expand in the years to come. While Leier knows his place within the organization is to be an advocate of the brand and an investor of the product, he can’t say enough about his business partners and the hard work that they put in day in and day out.

“Austin and Casey are the co-founders, and they work so hard and they work every day nonstop to do everything behind the scenes. I’m very, very proud of them and I’m just happy to be a part of Sweet Nutrition with them. They put their lives into this, and they deserve all the credit.”

As Sweet Nutrition is located throughout Canada in a number of supplement and grocery stores, their products are also readily available online at sweetnutritioncanada.com; use promo code Leier10 at checkout for 10 percent off.

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