Jaycob Megna’s bloodlines gave him a pretty good chance to become a professional athlete. The hockey part was a longshot.
“We kind of lucked out with the genes,” Megna quipped. “It’s been good.”
Born in Plantation, Fla., Megna and his family moved to the Chicago area when he was around a year old after his father Jay’s job with Life Fitness took him and the family here. Megna started skating when he was four years old, played for the Glenview Stars, Team Illinois and the Chicago Mission before graduating to the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks and Nebraska-Omaha.
Hockey, however, was new to an already-athletic family. Jay was a defensive back at East Tennessee State and spent time with the Dolphins and Saints, and Megna’s mother Jacqueline was a high school All-American in water polo. They both grew up in Florida and hockey wasn’t on their docket.
“My dad played sports his whole life,” Megna said. “He played football professionally but never played hockey. It was probably the only sport he didn’t play.”
Athletics and an emphasis on accomplishment were key parts of Megna’s development. Megna said that meant work-ethic and effort were stressed, but playing sports was something the family enjoyed. His brother Jayson is in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, and sister Jessica was a figure skater and played on the Florida State club softball team.
Megna played baseball through most of his time in high school and competed in golf. Academically, he excelled at Glenbrook North, and in 2011, he earned the USHL’s Scholar-Athlete Award after accumulating a 4.0 GPA at Mona Shores High School in Muskegon while playing for the Lumberjacks.
“(Sports) wasn’t forced upon you,” Megna said. “That was where we got to show our work and what we’ve done. It was always a lot of fun to play.”
That work is reflected in Megna’s role with the Wolves. A defenseman, he’s appeared in 43 NHL games, all with the Ducks, and is a veteran leader for a Wolves team that’s as young as any Megna’s been with in the AHL.
Now 27, Megna is grateful for how veterans were to him when he was breaking into the professional ranks, and wants to pay that forward. There are players adjusting to the pro lifestyle and being away from home while handling more free time than they’re used to, and Megna wants to help them acclimate
“It’s just another step in your pro progression,” Megna said. “It’s important to have guys that have been there that can help you out that you can lean on. For me personally, I just try to set an example and do everything the right way and take care of my business every day.”