This is the third in a series of minor hockey articles produced by Nick Raseta, an 18-year-old student pursuing a sports journalism career. His goal is to go beyond the scores, goals, assists and statistics. Over the weeks ahead, he will feature each of the city’s rep hockey teams, focusing on the unique stories and characters that provide the heartbeat of hockey in Orillia. Today, he looks at the minor atom team.
Hockey is a sport that can bring communities closer together.
The action-packed game is great to play and is exhilarating for fans to watch. But it’s the character of the players on those teams that transform the sport into a community.
The Julia Emery Mortgage Minor Atom Terriers show lots of character and class – both on and off the ice..
The team has done charity work in the community for many years and this year, the team rallied around a colouring book drive and crayon collection for kids in need this holiday season.
The idea came from Orillia’s Angie Green-Hill. Her goal was to collect 500 colouring books and 500 packages of crayons.
The minor atoms contributed to her cause by collecting 93 colouring books and 80 packs of crayons. The team raised the money to buy the items by doing household chores in return for cash to be donated to the effort.
The team also volunteered to ring the bells for the Salvation Army kettle campaign this past Saturday.
The coaches, players and sponsors have all bought into the idea.
“I like doing this stuff because it’s nice to help others, it makes the team feel good,” said Brock McKay, who plays defence for the Terriers.
McKay’s teammate, Kyson Campbell, had similar thoughts when asked how it makes him feel to help others.
“I like it cause it feel’s good to help others, especially when they aren’t as fortunate as some,” he said
The boys plan on doing more in the community.
“I would like to do a food drive to help out others,” said McKay.
Campbell had a different idea.
“I would like to buy kids hockey equipment if they can’t afford it because hockey is fun, and everyone should get to play it,” he said.
Coach Brian Shellswell said he is pround of how these young boys have embraced volunteerism. .
“These boys are showing such character at such a young age. it’s good to see these boys want to help the community by choice and that makes me proud,” said Shellswell.
The coach added: “When teams do stuff together away from hockey it really brings them closer, and that is good to start at a young age,” said Shellswell. “It also helps with on-ice chemistry which has shown this year.”.
Julie Emery, the team’s sponsor, and a sponsor of Orillia minor hockey for 18 years, said she is passionate about giving back to the game.
“I love hockey and sponsoring a team was very natural,” she said “I have made many long-term friends through sponsoring hockey.”
She is also heartened by the group of young lads on the team she sponsors.
“I believe in giving back to the community you live in and what better way than what these boys are doing,” she said. “It looks great for Orillia minor hockey and the community.”
You can catch the minor atoms at their next home game, December 22, against the Barrie Colts at Rotary Place.