Coming off the ice after a 4-1 win over Loyola Gold was just another game to Preston Watt. The junior goaltender made 37 saves leading New Trier Green (10-1) to another Scholastic Hockey League win Friday, Nov. 9 at Centennial Ice rink in Wilmette.
“It’s just a hockey game,” said Watt. “We treat it like every other game, we play to win and that’s what we did.”
What you don’t see in the net, behind all of that gear is the scar that runs down the middle of his chest. On Aug. 15 Watt underwent open-heart surgery and plays like it never happened.
“Im back with my teammates, playing hockey and I feel great,” he said. “I’m ready for the rest of the season.”
When Watt was born he was diagnosed with Shone’s Syndrome, which is a rare heart disease consisting of multiple defects on one side of the heart.
“His life was saved when he was ten days old,” said Rodney Watt, Preston’s father.
Preston had gone in for a checkup after the Trevians won the 2019 State Title and what they found wasn’t at all related to the original diagnosis.
“They found a subaortic stenosis, which is a growth of tissue in the lower chamber of his heart,” Rodney explained. “It was blocking all of the oxygenated blood back out to his body.”
Rodney also said a lot of the time this is undiagnosed, but since Preston is followed so closely by Dr. Carl Backer and his team at Lurie Children’s Hospital, they caught it and decided surgery was the best option.
“He’s got the most amazing team of doctors in the world,” said Rodney. “And it works for Preston to get back on the ice because he has great teammates, great coaches and we couldn’t be in a better situation.”
Preston did not waste any time, returning to the net Oct 18 when the Trevians traveled to Detroit to play the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
“Every time he’s on the ice we’re nervous,” said Rodney. “But we’re proud of him because he worked so hard to get back so fast and it’s his happy place.”
To support Preston and Lurie Children’s Hospital, New Trier Green and Loyola Gold will be donating proceeds from the double header Saturday, Dec. 15th at American Heartland Ice Arena.
“Im glad to donate to Lurie Children’s,” said Preston. “It’s a good cause and Im proud of it.”