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Louis Jamernik V honors ancestors with roman numeral in name

The UND center is the fifth Louis Jamernik, a name that has been passed down since the 1800s in Austria.

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Louis Jamernik IV and Louis Jamernik V stand in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Submitted photo

GRAND FORKS — This summer, UND sports info director Alec Johnson noticed something had changed in Louis Jamernik's Twitter profile.

It now said: Louis Jamernik V.

Johnson inquired about the roman numeral behind his name.

Jamernik, a junior center on UND's hockey team, explained that, yes, he is the fifth Louis Jamernik.

The family tradition started in the 1800s with his second great grandfather, who was born in Austria and moved to present-day Slovenia. Officially, he went by Alois, the native spelling of Louis.

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His first child, born in 1924 in Maribor, Yugoslavia, was a boy. He passed his name down, beginning a tradition that has carried on for 99 years and counting.

Here's how it works: If the firstborn child is a boy, the name is passed down.

And if the firstborn is a girl?

"It's done," Jamernik V said. "Canceled."

But the firstborn has been a boy, dating back to the 1800s.

Following the first two, Louis Jamernik III was born in 1948 in Ljubliana (present-day Slovenia).

Louis Jamernik IV was born in 1969 in Toronto.

Louis Jamernik V was born in 2000 in Calgary.

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"Can you imagine having that many firstborn boys?" said Jamernik IV, who works as a salesman in Alberta. "It's a fluke. At some point, it's going to end."

After hearing the story, Johnson suggested they use his full name in media coverage: Louis Jamernik V.

Jamernik thought it would mean a lot to his father, so he agreed.

"Just to have it on the piece of paper meant a lot to me," Jamernik V said. "It's probably the biggest honor I have, especially in terms of trying to follow in their footsteps of being a hard-working selfless guy, like they are. It would be an honor to be called my dad's carbon copy."

For the Jamernik family, getting to this point hasn't been easy.

Jamernik I was a farmer, who moved to present-day Slovenia.

Jamernik II was a sausage meister, who traveled to Germany to earn special certification. When his son, Jamernik III, was 8 years old, they fled communism in post-World War II Yugoslavia and ended up in Winnipeg.

"They had no money," Jamernik IV said. "It was pretty tough times. Things were so tight, they had to hawk a sewing machine to make it for the week or the month to eat. My grandma ended up getting a job. They had multiple jobs. You basically had to work a day, get the money, then feed yourself and your family. That's what it was like. Things were tight. A lot of people don't understand. It was stressful. They didn't have anything."

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Not long after settling in Winnipeg, Jamernik II moved the family to Toronto, where he worked at a meat shop. He eventually saved enough money to buy a house, converting the bottom floor into a butcher shop. They lived on the top floor.

Jamernik III was raised in Toronto and earned a finance degree from Ryerson. His first job was as a controller at Western University in London, Ont., from 1977-87. Then, he accepted a job at the University of Alberta, moving the family west. He still resides in Alberta today.

Jamernik IV, who lives in Calgary, has been in sales for 25 years.

Lessons learned

Jamernik V took a little bit from each of them.

From his grandfather, it was the emphasis on school and finding a safe and secure job.

Jamernik V is the first UND hockey player in at least 25 years to enter UND's renowned aviation program. It means he has to balance the rigorous demands of both playing Division-I hockey for a traditional powerhouse and going through the university's elite flight school.

"When his younger brother was playing on PS3, Louis would be on a computer with a flight simulator," Jamernik IV said. "He would be flying replicas of 747s all the way down to Pipers. It's not like he threw himself into (commercial aviation) on a whim. It's something he's always wanted to do since he was 10 years old, and when you have the passion for something, let it rip."

So far, it's going well.

Jamernik V has already earned his private pilot's license — something Jamernik III did later in life. Jamernik V also has his instrument rating, and as of last week, he officially became a commercial pilot. He will now begin flying multi-engine airplanes.

Jamernik V has posted exceptional marks, too. He was named an AHCA All-American Scholar last season as well as a National Collegiate Hockey Conference Distinguished Scholar-Athlete.

"They have really high expectations and it starts in school," Jamernik V said of his grandparents. "It pushed me to get the highest grades possible. That's always been the expectation growing up. Their philosophy is if you set yourself up well in school, you'll get a great job."

That expectation meant his dad wasn't able to pursue hockey in the 1980s. Jamernik IV was pulled out to focus on school.

He encouraged his sons, Louis and Ethan, to pursue the sport, though.

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Louis Jamernik III stands with his grandson, Louis Jamernik V.
Submitted photo

Getting into hockey

In fact, he took Louis to Sport Chek at age 2 to get his first pair of skates.

"His ankles wouldn't hold," Jamernik IV said. "They'd fold sideways. He asked if we could get them, but I said no. He cried. He really wanted them. I told him, 'As soon as you can stand on them and they hold, we'll get them.'"

They returned to Sport Chek every month for six months until they found a pair that held.

Then, his hockey career started.

Jamernik V was immersed in the sport growing up in Calgary.

He learned how to skate alongside Zach Savard, the son of former NHL star Marc Savard, who played for the Calgary Flames at the time. Jamernik V played on a team with Todd Bertuzzi's son, Tag, too.

The Jamerniks also billeted two Calgary Hitmen players — Brady Brassart and Chase Clayton. The Hitmen play in the Western Hockey League, which is Canadian major junior. Players who sign in that league are deemed ineligible for college hockey.

Jamernik V had an option to play in that league after being selected by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the third round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.

Warriors general manager Alan Millar offered to sign Jamernik V after the draft.

Jamernik V was advised to ask Millar if he had a playing position open for him that season. Millar was honest and said, 'not yet,' but his time would come in the future. Jamernik V opted not to sign at that point and leave the door open for U.S. college.

"That was a very difficult thing to do," his father said. "But we learned through experience — we're not saying it's the case for everyone — but the attrition rate is extremely high, and I don't think (players) understand that. That's the reality."

During 2019-20, Jamernik V was playing for the Okotoks Oilers in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, weighing college options. He wanted to go to a program that had Division-I hockey and a flight school.

That's when the door opened to the perfect school.

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Louis Jamernik V stands outside an airplane after becoming a commercial pilot earlier this month.
Submitted photo

Discovering Jamernik V

UND coach Brad Berry traveled to Alberta to scout a player on the Spruce Grove Saints. They happened to play against Okotoks that night.

"The Spruce Grove kid, I thought he was OK," Berry said. "He wasn't at the level we were looking for. But this other kid jumped out at me with the way he played, the pace, the conviction. He played very good defensively. He made plays offensively. He was a good, 200-foot player playing center."

Berry was only supposed to be there for a day. He changed his travel arrangements to stay and learn more about Jamernik V.

"He had some interesting offers from other programs, but he was wide open at that time," Berry said. "My eyes lit up when I heard he wanted to go into aviation, knowing we have the top aviation school in the United States. We went through the process getting to know him and the rest is history."

Jamernik V arrived at UND midway through the 2020-21 season.

Okotoks wasn't playing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Fighting Hawks brought him aboard to finish the season.

Jamernik V said he knew how lucky he was to be able to pursue his passions — especially hockey — because his father wasn't able to.

"Playing hockey when he was younger wasn't really an option," Jamernik V said. "He got pulled out as a PeeWee. When I first got here, he told me, 'If there's a day when you're feeling down or can't find motivation, remember, I would die to do this.'"

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UND's Louis Jamernik V (27) and USA Under-18 defenseman Nathan Tobey (20) chase the puck during an exhibition men's hockey game at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks on Saturday, December 31, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The future

Jamernik V has quickly become a leader on UND's hockey team, centering the shutdown line with Gavin Hain and Mark Senden. That group also has been productive offensively this season.

Jamernik V has two goals and nine points through 21 games.

While he doesn't think it's necessary for announcers to use the 'V' when calling his name, he does appreciate seeing it in print — especially as a tribute to his father.

"His work ethic is off the charts," Jamernik V said. "His sacrifice and dedication to his job, his kids. . . he would make breakfast for us every single morning. My mom would take us to school. They always found time in their day to spend time with us. I think my dad took great pride in waking up at 4 a.m., 5 a.m., and getting us ready for morning practices or taking weekends off of work for us. Just the amount of sacrifice is incredible.

"His philosophy as a parent is to let us kids do what we like. If we want to paint, then paint. If we want to be an astronaut, then be an astronaut. He's been such a big supporter of that."

Jamernik V has followed his passions — hockey and aviation.

While someday he'll become a pilot, he first hopes to pursue a professional hockey career once he's done at UND.

Will there be a Louis Jamernik VI in the future, too?

It depends.

If his first child is a boy, he will keep the tradition going.

If not, it ends with Jamernik V. He would not consider passing the name to a non-firstborn child.

"Five generations would be over," Jamernik V said. "Everyone asks if I'd name her Louise. No. It is what it is. At the end of the day, it's God's choice."

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Louis Jamernik IV carries his son, Louis Jamernik V, around the house.
Submitted photo

Western Michigan at UND

When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).
Stream: NCHChockey.com.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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