Many of us feel a deep connection to hockey that stems from growing up playing the game. As we grow and the game grows with us many feel the sense to give back to the game that means so much to them by mentoring new generations of hockey players. The Mount Royal University’s (MRU) Women’s Hockey Team has demonstrated a tremendous commitment to the next generation of hockey players through their commitment to both our HEROS and newly established Super HEROS.
The MRU Cougars are led by Coach Scott Rivett and captained by Daria O’Neill, two people committed to HEROS and who have made real and positive impacts on our players. Each one shares a similar story of growing up playing the game of hockey, describing their initial involvement as “just what kids did.” They acknowledge the benefits the game has brought to them and as they reflect on their experiences, they wish that all boys and girls could have those same opportunities, “the hockey community is so strong and we all just want to give back to the game that gave us so much.”
While Coach Scott and Daria share similar experiences starting hockey their journey to discovering HEROS is very different. Coach Scott first discovered HEROS while listening to the radio and heard HEROS President Kevin Hodgson speak about the program. Immediately, he sought a way to get involved and he’s been supporting the program by connecting his players with HEROS to allow them to volunteer on the ice for seven years. Scott primarily plays an organizational role with his teams’ involvement with HEROS, connecting his players to HEROS to volunteer and attends events when he can (having three kids of his own, he’s either at the rink as a coach or as a Dad).
Daria was introduced to Kevin in her grade 12 year and started volunteering, well before even becoming an MRU Cougar. Her passion and drive for hockey took her to school in the US and upon returning to Calgary and joining the Cougars she immediately decided to “reconnect with the organization through Super HEROS.” Daria is on the ice with the kids on a weekly basis. One aspect of volunteering that they’ve both observed is the impact the program has on the kids, “spending time with them is always a highlight, seeing how the program instills confidence in the kids and develops intangible life skill. I feel really lucky to be a part of it,” explains Daria.
The MRU Cougars players have been nationally recognized for their efforts with HEROS but that is not the driving force according to Coach Scott, “although being recognized is certainly nice it isn’t why any of our players have been involved with the program, it makes me proud to see how much our players give back and have become mentors within the program.”
The impact the program has on a weekly basis on the kids and the volunteers is profound, or as Daria puts it, “None of us hockey players would be where we are if it weren’t for the time, money and effort of those who gave back to the community, and these kids are no exception!” HEROS operates under the premise that hockey is truly for everyone and every kid deserves a chance to play. That’s what makes Coach Scott and Daria choose to volunteer at HEROS over and over, “HEROS is the type of organization that does just that.”