Friendships, opportunities, and motivation – that is what HEROS Hockey means to Nicholas Wilson. He is a successful young man with a story that’s inspiring to many. His single mother raised both him and his sister while trying to make ends meet with the little they had. “I grew up in East Vancouver, with the more urban Aboriginal majority. A lot of the kids I grew up with in elementary resorted to drugs, booze and gangs,” Nicholas explained. In high school, when academics weren’t really a priority, his passion for sports motivated him to attend classes. A support counselor suggested he try the HEROS program when times started getting tough. His love for hockey made it a great fit.
HEROS became a safe haven because it was a platform to play hockey and a place to build connections. He made long-lasting friendships with his teammates and mentors. One of his mentors is Norm Flynn, the Founder and President of HEROS. “I consider Norm as a father figure. I know that I can phone Norm or a parent who was one of the other founding people of HEROS whenever I want, no matter the day, no matter what the situation is.”
Because Nicholas played hockey from a young age, the other kids looked up to him and admired his hockey skills, giving him an unofficial leadership role amongst his peers. Nicholas feels the program provides resources to attain unique experiences and develop life skills. One of his favourite childhood memories is going to his first Canucks game with HEROS. “HEROS gives people who don’t have the opportunity to do a lot of things, to do those things. Hockey is a sport that’s expensive, but the other things – the relationships you get, the opportunities you get to do other educational adventures…Hockey is just a byproduct of the program – it’s one small aspect of what the program gives somebody in the long run.”
Today, with the support of HEROS and his own dedication and perseverance, Nicholas is enrolled in law school. He completed his first year studying property law in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and continues to succeed at making his dream career a reality.