Spreading Christmas cheer is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does it bring positivity to others, but those who spread it also feel the love in return. Last week, the Eagles Hockey Academy (EHA) Wolverines hockey team decided to spread cheer in the form of freshly baked delicious goodies. Director Joel Cote brought the idea forward at a recent meeting. “I said I wanted to do more stuff within the communities that our players live in.”
The 17 players on the EHA Wolverines live around the region, including Onoway, Jasper, Mayerthorpe, Westlock, and Evansburg. When no one immediately spoke up, Cote said they should bring baked goods to the Spruce View Lodge and Tennille’s Hope Community Soup Kitchen in Whitecourt. “Bonni Christie helped me set it up. We talked with each of the families and asked them to bake one item for each place, so each person donated two items,” explained Cote.
His son, Austin, is a player on the team and knows his way around the kitchen. “He made most of our stuff because he likes cooking,” chuckled Cote. Austin made ginger cookies, Rice Krispy squares, and butter tarts. Other team members brought in cupcakes, banana bread, Nanaimo bars, and even a smoked nuts and bolts mix. “There were some really good items. I’m happy with how it turned out,” said Cote.
On delivery day, the players were full of smiles and excitement. “Everyone was happy to be there. One gentleman at Spruce View Lodge took a picture with us. It was really good.” He said he hopes to see this type of thing continued every year with a different community chosen each time. “You used to see this more back in the day. Things like cadets or other minor sports leagues and stuff, especially where I grew up in Powell River, BC, took a big part in doing this type of stuff. You don’t see it as often now. We are trying to show them and lead them in the right way. It’s a life lesson in a way, and I hope it leads them to continue stuff like this in the future as they grow up.”
As a group, Cote said you couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces after they left the final drop-off. “They felt good about themselves. They walked out of each place with their chests puffed out a bit, and their heads held high. You can tell that they enjoyed the moment just by their body language. They had practice right after doing this, so it was a nice boost too.”
Player Crimson Chittick, defence (#7), said donating was important. “(Some people) never had the chance to get gifts and other presents and by giving them anything it always puts a smile on their face, and it makes them, as well as yourself, feel good about that. It always makes everyone happy, and that’s a good thing.”
Thirteen-year-old defenceman Evan Lopushinsky said giving to the community’s less fortunate or seniors makes him feel good because it makes people happy. “Everyone deserves to be involved in celebrating,” he said. Along with some freshly baked cookies, Lopushinsky brought warm socks to donate.
The EHA Wolverines are in their first year, and Cote said things had gone well. They hope to grow the league by adding more teams at different age levels. “I think everything is pretty positive with how things look development-wise. The kids are having a good time, and the showcases are great. They are competitive games, and the kids are working hard and should get better the harder they work. I think everything is working out the way it was planned. There’s positive chatter about what a program like this entails for a town like Whitecourt and the surrounding area. It’s a great central area to put together a team.” With initiatives that bring players deeper into the heart of each municipality, the team grows more significant than the sport of hockey. It becomes part of the community. To learn more about EHA, visit www.eagleshockeyacademy.com.