Minor Hockey Pays It Forward

In our town, like so many others across Canada, minor hockey is a pretty big deal. Countless people are involved in making the game happen; from arena workers, to association representatives (one of which to whom I am happily betrothed), to officials and we hockey dads and moms who shuttle kids to and from rinks day after day. As they say, “It takes a village to raise a child” and hockey is simply a microcosm of the phrase. The game provides hours of enjoyment for its participants and in my view helps us parents raise better rounded individuals. With the greater community providing so much, it’s important for those of us on the hockey side to give back where we can; presenting an opportunity to further contribute to our kids’ social development. The Boy’s teams over the years took part in Christmas toy drives, wore pink skate laces and used pink tape in support of Breast Cancer Research and helped organize hockey practices for special needs children. Paying it forward has likewise been a focus of mine for both of the rep team’s I’ve had the pleasure of coaching with great team-building results.

Two years ago, my  team participated in a pre-season walk to raise funds and awareness for Juvenile Diabetes. As it turned out, we had a teammate who happened to be afflicted by the disease and it was great to be able to support a cause so close to home, which our players could easily relate to through their new friend.

Walk for Juvenile Diabetes

This season we chose to take part in a Holiday Food Drive for the local Food Bank. An added incentive was a chance for the team collecting the most food (by weight) to win a practice coached by coaches from the local OHL team (a slight upgrade from the current coaching staff). A bin was decorated and made available for donations at our games for three weeks in December. I let the visiting teams know about our campaign and was pleased to see visitors arriving with bags of food in tow. In three weeks we were able to collect roughly 450 lbs of food and a couple hundred dollars in cash donations, which we were told would feed approximately 20 families for a month. A fine local charitable endeavour for the holidays indeed.

Food Bank Donation


Now with Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada coming up on Saturday, January 18th, Scotiabank would like to hear about how your team has paid-it-forward in your community. By sharing your community events as statements, photos or videos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and including the hashtag #scotiahockey, you will be entered into a contest with a chance to win:

  • an NHL Alumni Tour visit to your community between January 21st 2014 and September, 6, 2014 or
  • one of three (3) custom 10-20 second video responses from an NHL Alumni highlighting a community post submission and celebrating how they give back to their community. The videos will be posted on the Scotia Hockey Club’s Facebook page.

Entries can be submitted until 4pm on January 18th. The contest is open only to legal residents of Canada who are age of majority.

So get to sharing your pay-it-forward stories and encourage others in your hockey community to do the same to improve your town’s chance of winning the NHL Alumni Tour visit. Everyone in the community, hockey or otherwise, wins from good deeds done.


Team Building Plus

One of my team building goals for the Devil’s team this season was to get the players involved in some sort of community or charity-based event.  The Boy’s teams have always seemed to do something like this, but the same has been lacking on the girls side.  I had mentioned this to the Devil herself before our first official team meeting. She suggested that we find a charity walk to participate in; which seemed appropriate for a sports team.  In fact, she even did a little research and identified a couple of  local walks including one in support of Juvenile Diabetes – again I thought an appropriate choice. I kept that notion in my back pocket as an option, but wanted to present the entire concept to my parent group to see if they had any other ideas.  Other possibilities that popped to my mind were a Christmas toy drive, which the Boy had done in previous years or a charity hockey game where we would charge an admission fee for one of home regular season matches then invite friends and relatives to attend with the cause in mind and their wallets in hand.

Having proposed the idea to the team, it took only one day to identify a clear and quite coincidental winner.  Unbeknownst to me, one of my chosen goalies with whom I’d had no previous history because she is from out of town, was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes at the age of three.  Her mother asked if we would be interested in participating in the aforementioned walk, which was decided on without hesitation. This walk would serve the multiple purposes of team building, sponsoring a very worthy cause, educating our young ladies about the disease and ultimately supporting a teammate. The importance of the latter was not lost on me or several others, who stepped up in numbers to raise funds and awareness. I was pleased to have all 17 members of the team and several parents make themselves available pretty early on a less-than-sunny, Summer Sunday morning. Only a last minute flu bug got in the way of us having a full squad.  Even our injured player showed up with a wheelchair in tow to be pushed around the relatively short, though occasionally bumpy, 5k course.  There was no shortage of volunteer drivers – a couple of whom thought wheelchair wheelies would be a grand idea. The helpless passenger’s shrieks would indicate otherwise.  Though the shrieks would, of course, only prompt more wheelies.

I was able to procure some jerseys from our hockey association for the walk. We looked great as a group in red, white, blue and yellow with trademark Sharks on our chests if I do say so.  Even an event organizer commented that it was awesome to see a full  team taking part and thanked us for attending. We made our way through the walk without incident, though there were some nervous moments when the entire team decided to jump up and down on a floating dock out on the lake prior to an ideal photo op.

On the team building front, I thought the girls started to gel…at least a little…and as expected.  There are still a few who have or haven’t played together before who tended to either stick together or keep to themselves. In all, it feels like we have a good group.  I think it was a solid start with an excellent cause as a backdrop. The girls did a good thing. They should all be proud of their efforts.  Some smiles and giggles around hot dogs and watermelon at the end proved that they had some fun to boot. For some, like the Devil, that fun included a jumping castle and inflatable slide.  Yup, my kid is 13 going on 7 and I’m just fine with that…thank you very much.

Next up, a little optional dry land training, scheduled for once a week throughout the Summer, where they can commiserate as a group in their expected muscle and mental fatigue.

#imahockeydad #imahockeycoach