And playing close to home is a bonus
By Matt Mackinder
Special to the Oxford Leader
Tim Perks is proof that patience pays off.
An Oxford native and 2011 graduate of Oxford High School, Perks left home after high school to play junior hockey in Canada in Manitoba and the Maritimes before attending and playing NCAA Division III hockey for Northland College in Ashland, Wis. After college, he continued playing hockey at the professional level, mostly with Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) organizations out of state.
This season, that all changed as Perks signed with the Motor City Rockers, a new FPHL team playing out of Big Boy Arena in Fraser.
“With local ownership and management, they heard about me through the Michigan hockey community,” Perks said. “The GM Nick Field reached out prior to their expansion draft and was curious if I was interested in playing. I agreed and they drafted me from the Carolina Thunderbirds.
“Playing for the team has been amazing. I’ve been on the road the past 10 years and I have been patiently waiting for an opportunity to play close to home.”
Prior to the Rockers, Perks skated for the Mentor (Ohio) Ice Breakers, Danbury (Conn.) Hat Tricks and Carolina Thunderbirds. He also played two games in the Southern Professional Hockey League for the Quad City Storm.
“Being close to home, it allows me to operate within my networks, such as work, development and having personal relationships that are able to attend and support my expression,” Perks said. “This also allows me to connect with other hockey members that are local.”
As far back as he can remember, Perks has always been immersed in the game.
“My family members have always been hockey fans and involved with the sport,” Perks said. “My grandmother being Canadian was truly my first advocate as she allowed me to shoot jar cans at her when I was little and let me roller blade in her kitchen. I’ve continued to play hockey because of the value it has brought me and the passion of expression it has allowed me. Even after several surgeries and limitations, I’ve learned a lot about myself, such as development, healing the body and, most importantly, my mental health.”
While at OHS, Perks played all four years under head coach Dave Hague. Field was actually involved with Lake Orion’s high school hockey team and had immediate connections to my hometown.
“I really enjoy the diversity Oxford has provided its people,” Perks said. “You have a beautiful mix of community locations and rural areas. I’ve lived downtown, in the large Waterstone subdivision, and now in the rural area on the western border. I have so many memories and experiences spending my early and late teenage years here, as I moved to Oxford during the sixth grade. The memories I can recall have all revolved around the experiences I’ve shared with fellow classmates and teammates, it’s really the connections and bonds that make it memorable. My mom (Chris Perks) and dad (Fred Wicker) still live in Oxford. My brother Chad Wicker and myself have a room for ourselves here when we aren’t on the road.”
Now 29, Perks said he’s taking his career day by day.
“Believe it or not, most people that don’t know me assume I’m several years younger,” said Perks. “As far as my career, I’ll continue to play hockey as long as it fits my lifestyle and doesn’t take away from my value of life. I actually stopped playing for a short time but the universe brought it back to me with an abundance of opportunities, so I felt that I should continue that path for the time being. I wouldn’t even say hockey is Plan A, it has just brought so much value. I sacrifice a few hours a day and for several months, my weekends. However, it’s provided so much more and it allowed me time and freedom to pursue other aspects I’ve grown curious to. My college degree has been put in my back pocket for now but I’ve been using my free time to further my self education and since graduating I’ve invested several thousand into courses, books and professional teachings.”
At Northland, Perks graduated in 2018 with a major in Business Management and a minor in Environmental Studies. He noted that he’s just six credits shy of a second major in Entrepreneurship.
With the one-year anniversary approaching of the unfortunate Oxford High School tragedy, Perks remembers where he was that day and how he felt.
“I just finished skating in Troy when I got a phone call from a friend who told me about the incident,” Perks said. “I felt very strange, I felt shock, almost in disbelief. My heart felt heavy. I just spent that previous evening reconnecting with another Oxford alumni after years apart.”
Back in Fraser, Perks is currently out of the lineup. He took a hit to the head the first game of the season against the Port Huron Prowlers and experienced concussion symptoms that have since subsided.
“I talked with Nick about practicing and he said to take it slow,” said Perks. “Hoping to practice this week and be back in games in 2-3 weeks. After 15 years of injuries and several surgeries, I’ve definitely had experience with healing and recovery. Makes the result much more worth it.”