Derek Mayer was always a great hockey player as a youth, but it was not until he left his home in Rossland, BC that he matured.
Mayer was invited to Notre Dame High School in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. It is one of the top hockey programs in the world at that age level, and was run by 1960s Olympian Terry O'Malley.
Mayer got his grades in tow and earned a scholarship with the University of Denver. He starred there and was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1986.
Mayer left school in 1988 and joined the Canadian national team for a season before signing with the Red Wings. His entire time with the Red Wings was spent in the minor leagues. It is a period of time Mayer regrets.