It’s a family business when it comes to Central Automotive Services.
About 45 years ago, this little automotive mechanic shop popped up in Kitchener, Ontario, and still stands to this very day thanks to the hard work of Mr. Walter Roth. Although now Walter is happily retired, luckily for him, his family business is still running strong thanks to his grandson, Craig Wende, and Craig’s two uncles, David and Gary Roth.
Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., these three guys are servicing a number of cars, ensuring safety and efficiency for their customers. On a typical day, they could service up to six cars each or they could get fewer depending on the situations that they have at hand. All in all, Wende knew exactly what he wanted to be straight out of high school, achieving one of his three dreams of becoming an automotive mechanic at just the age of 18.
“I like cars coming in and me being able to rectify the problem and I like when cars come in and they drive out and I’m like, ‘yeah, I just fixed that car’,” stated Wende when asked what his favorite part about being an automotive mechanic was.
Along with the problem solving, Wende also loves the hands-on work that working at Central Automotive Services gives him and working with his family has its benefits as well. With his dual lifestyle, Wende needs all of the support and flexibility he can get in order to live out both of his childhood dreams, and thanks to his grandfather, he’s able to do just that.
On weeks when the Rochester Knighthawks are hitting the floor to take on one of their opponents in the National Lacrosse League, Wende gets the luxury of leaving the day before the contest with an ample amount of time to make it to practice the night before the game. And after the late-night team practice, all that lies between Wende and game-day is a good night’s sleep.
When game-day comes around in Rochester, it’s go time.
Like most players on the Knighthawks roster, Wende likes to wake up early and get breakfast and coffee prior to the team’s morning shootaround. At shootaround, the team will go through systems and the Rochester goaltender will get in some long tosses before hitting the showers and taking on team lunch at The Distillery. After lunch, it’s back to the hotel and time for some shuteye before suiting up and heading back to the rink.
“I have a game-day ritual where I have to shave my face before I go to the rink and then the suit goes on,” mentioned Wende when talking about his normal routine.
Once the suit is on and Wende rolls into The Blue Cross Arena, it’s time to get in the zone with a game-day playlist. Warm-ups hit, game time is underway, and before he even knew it, Wende has started four of the first seven contests of the Knighthawks in their inaugural 2019-20 campaign.
This season for Wende really has been a dream come true.
In just his second year in the NLL, Wende has finally made it onto an active roster while proving that he is a crucial component to the brand-new franchise with the hard work he has put into the game.
“Going into training camp there were a lot of questions marks as to what was going to happen. I came into camp and worked hard to get on the active roster, something new that I never had in my career yet.”
Since training camp, Wende has seen time in five of the first seven tilts of the season, getting the start in four, including the season-opener against the Georgia Swarm back on Nov. 30. Making it even more special was that his first career NLL start came against his former team. Although the Knighthawks netminder is only sporting a 1-3 record, it seems that every time he gets a chance to take the floor, he improves his game a little more with each opportunity.
The most special moment of this season for Wende came on back on Jan. 18 with his first professional win against the defending NLL champion Calgary Roughnecks during a tight one-goal game that came down to the final buzzer.
“I’ll tell you right now, after that final buzzer went, I don’t think there was a person in the arena that could have wiped the smile off my face. I was so happy. It was such a long road to get into the league, so to have such a career milestone finally happen, it was unbelievable,” expressed Wende when asked to reflect on his first professional win.
Wende gets to live out the best of both worlds as he serves as a problem solver by day and a goaltender by night. First career start and first professional win all within just months of one another. The ability to continue his grandfather’s dream while still living out a childhood vision by continuing to play the sport that he fell in love with at a very young age.
Although Wende considers his auto mechanic job and his professional lacrosse career the best of both worlds, there’s another job that seems to trump them all – being a dad. In August of 2019, Lilliana Gwenyth Thomasina Wende was born and completely changed her father’s world.
When asked which job is his favorite of the three, Wende put it simply.
“Without a doubt being a father. I know lacrosse is kind of a perk and being a mechanic is my day job, but the moment of being a father is something that can’t ever be topped.”
Now at the age of 29, Wende not only has one job he loves, but three – all of which he considers a dream come true. How lucky is he?