At 21-years-old, Paige didn’t want to date a professional athlete, but she found out the guy she just exchanged numbers with is then 22-year-old Anaheim Ducks forward, Ryan Getzlaf.
“Obviously, the stereotype [of athletes] is there,” said Paige, “It’s not an easy life with their travel and everything. It’s definitely a different life.”
But this Getzlaf guy was persistent, and she gave him a shot.
“When Ryan and I started dating, we had that connection you just can’t resist. It was just something different than I’d ever had before. I was like, ‘I love this guy, and I’m going to marry him.’ When you know, you know, for sure. That’s what changed [my mind].”
Flash forward eight years: happily married, Paige and Ryan Getzlaf are parents to sons Ryder (4 1/2), Gavin (2 1/2) and daughter Willa (1 1/2). The Getzlaf family lives in Southern California, outside the media bubble that envelopes many couples in the hockey landscape of Canada. Paige received the opportunity to participate in the second season of Canada’s W Network show “Hockey Wives” and ran with it. The effervescent Getzlaf has emerged as a caring, hilarious and a leader among the rest of the wives.
The show wrapped the first half of their season this past week. I had the opportunity to chat with Paige, about her life, emergency appendectomies and what it’s like to be the stabilizing force in a crazy household.
Q. The hockey world doesn’t know much about you. So, who is Paige Getzlaf?
PAIGE GETZLAF: [Laughs] I’m a mom. I’m a hockey wife. An aspiring jewelry designer, I’m working on my jewelry line right now. I’m a captain’s wife. I’m involved in the community here in Orange County. I’m a normal mom. It’s tough to talk about myself.
What made you decide to do the show?
I really wanted to do the show to get to know other girls across the league. I’ve only been in Anaheim with Ryan. I’m just used to how Anaheim does things. To get the opportunity to travel, meet the girls on the East Coast, talk to them about how they do things in their franchises is kind of cool. That’s what kind of intrigued me to do it.
Also to let fans know what we’re really are about. We’re so normal. It’s not like we’re shopping and doing all these crazy things all the time. We’re normal people and we’re at home, doing the day-to-day grind as well.
How did Ryan feel about being on the show?
He took the approach of, “You’ve supported me the whole time we’ve been together with hockey. If this is something you want to do, I’m going to support you, too.”
You said in one of the episodes that you put school on the backburner. If you could go back, what would you do?
I’d love to go back. I don’t know when because I’ve got young ones at home right now.
I would love to be a pediatric nurse. The hard thing about that is just the schedule. With hockey, our schedules would conflict so much we’d hardly get to see each other. It was hard to give up school and my dream of being a pediatric nurse. Now looking back, I’m happy that I did because I would not be able to see my husband as much I get to now with his traveling; nursing shifts are long.
Going on the show, do you consider yourself a public figure now?
Not really, right now [laughs]. I don’t know. I still feel normal. I don’t feel any different. Also, the show airs in Canada. Me walking down the street in California, people don’t really say, “Hey I saw you on Hockey Wives.” Even though, through social media people are begging, “How can I see this in the States?” But I don’t feel any different.
Q. Do you keep up with things that are written about you, your family, your husband?
Ryan and I both don’t get involved too much with articles that are published, social media reports, or whatever. Ryan has never been into social media and I’m a little bit to connect with friends and other hockey wives across the league. Some people like to read all articles but I think it’s good that we’re not. Then you don’t let things get to you as much.
Ryan has been very public talking about the year he struggled right after you guys got married and had your first child. What was that period like for you?
That was a tough year, for sure. Ryan had a hard time disconnecting home life with hockey life. He felt like he was missing out on the first smile or the first laugh or the first step with our first son. It’s a difficult position because I want to send him all these pictures and videos on the road saying, “Oh my gosh! Ryder walked!” but you don’t want to hurt him either. You want him to be there in that moment with you, but then you don’t want to be like, “Oh, guess what? Ryder walked while you were away.”
He talked to so many guys he looks up to, like Scott Niedermayer, and Chris Pronger. People who have been there with 3 or 4 kids and [they] helped him get through it, helped him separate hockey life and home life. He finally he wrapped his head around it and now it’s just normal with three kids. It was hard for us, though.
But what was that like for you? You’re a new mom, relatively young, watching your husband go through this. How did you get through that period?
My family is close by and his mom came down so much. Having lots of family around to help support me with this new baby while Ryan was gone, that was huge.
It’s no secret he is having a rough start to the season. How do you support him at home when he’s struggling at work? You’ve got three kids, little ones, do you change the family dynamic?
I just make the household as stress-free as possible. Whether that’s taking the kids to the park while he’s napping before a game, or letting him sleep in the morning after a game and taking the kids out to breakfast. You just kind of try to make the house as stress-free as possible so he can focus on hockey and be rested and be healthy in order to play the next game.
Ryan was on the road when they announced his appendectomy. What was going on through your mind when you found? Obviously, it was before the rest of us heard. How do you handle things like that on the road?
[Laughs]. We had been dealing with it for about a month; back and forth with doctors. I kind of had an idea, but I didn’t expect it to be that extreme.
When I heard that he was going to fly home, I was shocked. I was like, “Okay, we’re actually doing this.” It’s a lot more serious than we expected and that was hard. Of course my plans had to change. When he got home, he had surgery right away and I accommodated for that.
Literally within four hours I was back and forth to the hospital four different times. I’d take the kids to school, go to the hospital for an hour. Go back to pick the kids up from school, go to the hospital for an hour. Take them to soccer, go back to the hospital for an hour. [Laughs] It was a lot. You’ve just got to adapt and change the schedule.
Seriously, how do you do all this? You’re a super mom! Families with your financial means would just give the kids to the nanny and go shopping. Tell me your secret.
You know what, I’ve always wanted to be a mom. And I like to be involved. I’m ‘Room Mom’ for both my kids’ school. I’m ‘Team Mom’ for all their sports. It’s fun! It’s crazy and it’s busy and it’s all over the map, but at the end of the day, you can sit on the couch and be like, “Wow. That was a good day.”
The kids are just such blessings. I just like to be as involved as much as possible and Ryan too whenever he can and gets the chance.
I know your kids are young. Do they understand what their dad does for a job?
Yes, my two boys do! Ryder is 4 ½ and Gavin is 2 ½ and they both are obsessed with hockey. It’s funny because they mimic fans. They’ll be like, “Hey dad, can I have your autograph?” or “Dad, do you want my autograph?” or “Ryan Getzlaf! Give me your autograph!”
It’s so funny. Kids absorb so much. They pick up on EVERYTHING. Even stuff on the ice, like tapping his stick against the bench, they’ll do that. They’ll be like, “Dad, you know when they wrestle?” Then they’ll throw down their gloves and wrestle around at the house. It’s funny.
They definitely know what dad does. I didn’t think they would at age two, but they totally do.
You brought up the throwing down of the gloves. You see Ryan throw down the gloves, what goes through your mind?
Oh man. I don’t love the fighting. It scares me, you know? Some girls like it and don’t mind. Ryan doesn’t fight that much anymore. He’s much more of a scorer now, so I’m lucky in that in the sense.
But yes, I don’t like the fighting. I just look away when he throws down the gloves, thinking, “Where are the refs? They should break it up.”
Like, I’M GONNA GET A BIG GLASS OF WINE NOW!
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