Telford Tigers’ Sam Watkins out due to heart op
Telford Tigers forward Sam Watkins will miss the rest of the ice hockey season to undergo heart surgery.
Watkins, 19, son of head coach and general manager Tom, has lived with pulmonary atresia with ventricular septal defect since birth and first had a heart operation at four days old.
He had open-heart surgery aged one before he required the same 10 years ago.
Tom Watkins said in a family statement of his Telford-born son, players’ player of the season last year: “This is very unexpected and a shock to us all but something Sam has had to live with since he was born.
“It’s been an incredibly tough few days and no doubt tougher days ahead but I can’t help admire Sam’s courage, character and maturity in the face of such adversity.
“Despite all the setbacks over the years, all the surgeries, all the pain and heartache he has had to endure, he has overcome every obstacle and challenge laid out in front of him.
“He is the bravest, toughest, most resilient person I’ve ever met and I am so incredibly proud to call you my son.”
Watkins broke into Tigers’ senior team aged 16. He captained Great Britain at under-15 as well as featuring for GB’s under-20s last year.