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'My Hockey Coach Teaches Me' Essay Contest Winner Announced

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 04/03/17, 1:15PM EDT

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Grand prize winner and finalists revealed for the 2017 Essay Contest

The Ontario Minor Hockey Association is proud to announce the grand prize winner and finalists of the third annual Essay Contest presented by Respect in Sport. This year's theme was 'My Hockey Coach Teaches Me'. The contest was designed to engage players in an educational manner while encouraging them to express their ideas and thoughts on why they truly love to play hockey. 

Over 250 essays were submitted and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association in partnership with Respect in Sport want to thank everyone for their participation. Based on the quality, creativity and passion demonstrated in their submission, five finalists were selected with one of them emerging as our grand prize winner.

Sheldon Bolton of the Norwood Minor Hockey Association is this year’s winner who wrote about the lessons he's learned both on and off the ice. For being named winner, Sheldon will receive a $1000 gift card to Pro Hockey Life.

“The Ontario Minor Hockey Association is proud of all of the Essay Contest participants for their examples of positive life skills and the impact they are making on and off the ice in their hockey communities," said OMHA Executive Director Ian Taylor. "All of the essays submitted showed that the future of hockey is in a great place and that what we are teaching our players is more than just hockey skills."

“Respect in Sport is about providing a positive environment for all, so that hockey players can enjoy the game, and learn from the positive adult role models around them, like parents, coaches, and officials,” said Respect Group's Ontario Director Mark Allen. “Respect Group is very proud to support the OMHA Essay Contest and wants to thank every player who submitted an essay and also congratulate the five Finalists."

Aidan Alibhai (Unionville Minor Hockey), Cody Catherwood (Milton Minor Hockey), Ethan Schoonderbeek (Clarington Toros) and Ryan Eggens (Guelph Minor Hockey) were selected as the four finalists. For their tremendous writing abilities they will receive an OMHA prize pack.

Grand Prize Essay

My hockey coach teaches me to be supportive, hardworking and respectful.

My hockey coaches teaches me teamwork. This means we work together and support each other. If someone is having a bad day, we pat them on the back or give them a high five. We cancelled a hockey game, so we could be there to support our teammate at a funeral. Together, we wear pink laces and pink ribbon stickers on our helmets to support his family. I learned from my coach that teamwork and support happens on and off the ice. Our teammates are our friends and family and we need to be there for them off the ice too.

I have learned from my coach that we celebrate our efforts regardless of wins or loses. If we have tried our hardest and we have improved in skating, stick handling, passing or shooting than we should be proud. I have learned to celebrate what I have worked hard to learn not the number of goals or assists I get.

I have learned from my coach to be respectful, we shake hands with the visiting team before the game. We celebrate quietly if we get goals or win because we don't want the other team to feel bad.

The things I have learned from my coach are not hockey lessons, they are life lessons.

- Shelton Bolton, Norwood Minor Hockey (Novice)

Finalist Essays

My hockey coach teaches me the importance of teamwork, respect and discipline. These 3 things apply to me at home, school and most importantly on the ice. These characteristics describe who you are and how others see you.

Teamwork is important in hockey because without playing as a team, it would be hard to score a goal. It takes more than one person to go through every player on the ice without passing in order to make a goal. Being part of a team helps players celebrate wins and learn from losses. We build trust in each other by going to team building events like going to the food bank to work as a team to pack holiday food hampers.

Respect is also important because you have to respect the players, coaches and referees. One way you can show respect on the ice is by helping players up or checking to see if players are okay after they have fallen.

Finally, to get teamwork and respect of others on the ice, players need to be disciplined. We need to show up on time for practices and games to get the most out it. My coach always says what you put into the practice is what you will get out of it.

In conclusion, my hockey coach teaches me many things that help me in my everyday life. But the most important things that I have learned is that without teamwork, respect and discipline you will never get to your goal very easily.

- Aidan Alibhai (Unionville Minor Hockey Atom)


My coaches teach me to be a better hockey player and a better person! Our coaches make our team fun and exciting. The drills teach us to shoot, skate and pass. Sometimes we get to have a fun game of hockey with our own team.

Our coaches also teach us to be respectful. They show us how we should respect our teammates but also the refs, other team players, opposing coaches and even arena property.

Our coaches are nice enough to tell us to be helpful to others as well. They show us how to help teammates by fixing their mistakes when we see them. They tell us to be nice to other people, like the elderly, by just saying thank you or holding the door for someone.  

What I like most about our coaches is they care not only for us but the whole community. They started up a team food drive that we all participated. They tip the waitress when we go for a team meal. They even donate money to charity.

A major reason why hockey is my favorite sport to play, watch, and learn is my coaches. My favorite coach of all is my dad! He pushes me out of my comfort zone. He is always nice and tells me to never stop improving. My Dad and the other coaches are one of the main reasons why I love hockey. Because of them, I always say, “You’ll never lose if you never stop believing!”

- Cody Catherwood (Milton Minor Hockey Minor Atom)


My hockey coach teaches me to be a respectful hockey player. Mr. Stover has taught me not only great hockey skills but also important things off the ice, like when he tells us to be considerate while away at tournaments by not running or shouting in the hallways. He wants us to make a good impression on other organizations so they will want visit our town for a tournament.

Mr. Stover also tells us to be respectful to officiating refs and not yell at them if they make a mistake because they are like us and will make a mistake from time to time. He teaches us to be respectful to all arena staff and to leave the dressing rooms the way we found them.

Above all else though, my hockey coach teaches me to respect my parents who work hard all day to earn the money to allow me to play hockey, and then when they get home they shuttle me out to my activities at night. We as hockey players must respect the time and money they put into the game of hockey for us.

Therefore, you can see that my hockey coach, Mr. Stover, teaches me valuable hockey skills, but above all else he teaches me to have a positive impact on my community and be respectful.

- Ethan Schoonderbeek (Clarington Toros Minor Bantam)


My hockey coach teaches me and my team that hockey is more than a game of skills and drills. Any coach can teach his players how to skate and move a puck but a great coach can teach values that go beyond the rink. And that is what my current coach is able to do!

By creating an enthusiastic and positive attitude, he has made a bunch of 13 year old boys realize their individual potentials and “think” as a team. His favourite expression is “it takes 6 players to score a goal and 6 players to stop one”. As a goalie, I believe that these words are definitely words to play by!

Respect is another value our coach has taught us. He has coached us that we need to respect the officials, the competition and more importantly, each other during tough times. We may not always agree with what is happening at the moment but we need to respect decisions and move on.

He has taught us that hockey is one of many memories. We need to balance our time between hockey, school, family, and friends. Soon, memories will be less about who scored and more about the fun times after the game.

Lastly, he has shown us we are more than part of a team. When we put on our jackets we represent our team, our organization, and our city. We are proud to be Guelph Gryphons and we are proud to have him as our coach!

- Ryan Eggens (Guelph Minor Hockey Minor Bantam)

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