Kevin Hodgson acknowledges hockey ought to be for everybody. Now, the HEROS Hockey govt director is being acknowledged himself.
He has been nominated for the NHL’s Willie O’Ree Group Hero Award, recognizing those that have made a optimistic influence of their group, tradition or society by means of hockey.
“Anyone who does work to attempt to make the group a greater place, no one does it for awards or recognition,” Hodgson mentioned. “However on the day that I discovered I used to be a nominee for the Willie O’Ree award, it was a little bit totally different.
“I’ve had the advantage of spending a number of time with Mr. O’Ree over time and attending to know him and packages like ours, now we have to see ourselves as legacies for what he began.”
For the previous 20 years, Hodgson has been operating HEROS (Hockey Schooling Reaching Out Society) Hockey, a program that empowers at-risk youth and will get them concerned within the recreation, together with the Superheros program, which gives youth dwelling with bodily and cognitive challenges the possibility to hit the ice.
Applications are at the moment being supplied in 24 communities throughout Canada, together with in Regina.
“Once we began in 2000, the purpose was actually simply to ensure youngsters who couldn’t afford to play the sport, had a spot to play,” mentioned Hodgson. “I’ve at all times mentioned if we can provide youngsters the chance to do issues that that they had way back given up hope of doing, like taking part in hockey, like being a part of a crew, essentially the most extremely highly effective factor on the planet is a child who didn’t imagine in themselves who does now.
“If a child falls down seven occasions on the ice, now we have to show them to rise up eight occasions.”
First handed out in 2017-28, the award is known as after Willie O’Ree, who on Jan. 18, 1958, turned the primary Black participant to play within the NHL. After his taking part in profession, O’Ree served because the NHL’s Variety Ambassador the place he labored intently with HEROS Hockey packages throughout the nation.
Hodgson is one in every of three people from throughout North America up for the award, which comes with $25,000 USD. The 2 different finalists will obtain $5,000 every.
“$25,000 would imply extra gamers on the ice in Canada who proper now don’t have an opportunity to play,” mentioned Hodgson. “However past that, it might be rocket gasoline for us to ensure we’re all over the place we should be, we’re advocates for marginalized communities and children from backgrounds that hockey is left behind.
“All of our gamers have been informed or made to really feel like they don’t belong in hockey. We should be an advocate and a voice.”
Hodgson additionally says this nomination is on behalf of the 300 volunteers and 900 youngsters throughout the nation who’re a part of this system. And whereas he says the popularity is sweet, the grins he sees when youngsters are in this system are greater than sufficient.
“Massive recognition is sweet, but it surely’s the little stuff and simply seeing each week what this program does and watching the way it makes youngsters imagine that issues are potential however having the ability to watch the spirit of volunteerism (as nicely),” Hodgson mentioned.
Voting is open now at www.nhl.com/followers/willie-oree-community-hero-award and closes Fri. June 10 at 11 am CT.
Calgary hockey program turning out SuperHEROS
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