Dynamic duos are often a powerful one-two punch in the sports world and HEROS has our very own behind the scenes of the HEROS Sunshine Coast chapter, Kelly and Roy. Both have different levels of hockey experience: Kelly’s been playing hockey for over 30 years, whereas Roy doesn’t watch hockey, play hockey or skate. Yet both bring their different strengths to the program with one common goal: giving back to the community. Kelly is the program coordinator and Roy drives the kids from nine different schools to the rink and helps them with any equipment issues on the ice.
Giving back to the community and being involved is extremely important to both Kelly and Roy. Kelly explained that “seeing the kids around town and seeing them working and thriving as productive and happy citizens in the community” helps remind them as to why they are so committed to HEROS. Whenever Kelly and Roy are around town, they are sure to bump in to one of their current or former HEROS kids and are always pleasantly greeted. Even teachers who had a student in the program a few years back still recall the difference HEROS made on that child. “The fact that they remember that it was HEROS that made that impact on that child on their day to day school like tells me that the program is really more far reaching than us as volunteers are aware,” shared Kelly.
Since Roy drives the bus, he gets the opportunity to go to the schools and talk to the teachers and principals of the HEROS kids. Every time he goes to one of the pick-up schools, he’s always warmly welcomed and gets positive feedback from the staff, specifically how HEROS addresses the kid’s needs, Roy explaining “kids changing in sizes and you hear the principal say, ‘We never hear Charlie, who grew a foot over the summer, complain that his gear doesn’t fit’ and that’s because we fit them out every time they grow.” He emphasized that the program takes any walls or limitations, like money for gear or not having a ride to the rink and eliminate them completely, so kids have a chance to have fun and play the sport they love.
One of the key things that they both noticed is that the smallest gestures can sometimes have the biggest impact on the kids. “A lot of the kids don’t get praised at home and get quite a negative influence instead, so we make certain that we go that extra step to give them praise, even if things don’t’ go quite the way you think it should go, you give them praise. It’s amazing what a little bit of praise can do to some of these kids,” explained Roy. Roy and Kelly work together to ensure that the kids are thriving while at the program. If they see that a participant is struggling academically, they suggest other extra-curricular classes like shop, woodworking or mechanics classes that Roy teaches at the local schools. “I suggest perhaps… try working with your hands at my program. But then when I see kids enjoying my program and are talking about sports and stuff like this, I say hey why don’t you come and try HEROS.” The key part of working with kids is to find them an outlet that they can have fun and learn while doing so.
One of their highlight reel moments at HEROS is the first hockey game they organized for the kids. The HEROS participants never played a game of hockey so were unfamiliar with rules of the game. But, as Kelly described, that didn’t stop them from playing as best as they could, “The evolution in their ability to play was remarkable from the 1st period to the 3rd period. Something clicked in their heads and they went, ‘oh this is how you do it’ and ‘oh I can do that’ – literally you can see them improve before your eyes within that one game.” No matter how much energy and resources the program can take, there’s one thing that makes it all worth while: the kids’ smiling faces. Like yin and yang, both Kelly and Roy have different levels of hockey experience, yet their different strengths bring positivity to the Sunshine Coast chapter of HEROS and youth in their community.