If you’ve ever seen a young hockey player take those first few tentative steps onto the ice, stick in hand and slowly shuffling after that elusive black puck, you’ll know you’re witnessing the start of a love affair for the game of hockey. As parents cheer from the sidelines, players gain confidence in their skills and forge bonds with their teammates. For many families though, the cost of playing on a hockey team can be high. Read on to find out how Martello’s Employee-Directed Gift Program helped bring down the cost so that young players could hit the ice and support an amazing local cause.
With the playoffs underway and Sens hockey fever truly taking hold in Ottawa, it is exciting to go and see where it ‘all begins’ for a group of young hockey players as they take to the ice for the first time. Martello Software Architect Chris Wilson, a hockey player himself, was excited for the time when his twins would be ready to be a part of a hockey team. When the time came two years ago, Chris chose the Ottawa Centre Minor Hockey Association (OCMHA) because of their commitment to the sport and the way they support and encourage young players just starting out. Chris was excited to step up as the assistant coach for his children’s team the ‘Fireblades’ and his wife Erin decided to volunteer part of her time as the board’s treasurer – both playing important roles both on-and-off the ice.
Currently, the OCMHA has four teams in its Initiation Program that are made up of 5 to 6 year old boys and girls eager to hit the ice. The program emphasises the goals of having fun, developing skills and learning to cooperate in a team environment. No scores are kept on the ice – the only goal is to have fun. “I love watching my kids develop the same passion that I have for the sport of hockey. Being able to help coach the team and watch as their skills and confidence progress throughout the season is a privilege for me.” says Chris. An exciting component of every season are the hockey tournaments that the players get to take part in. Tournaments give the young players that ‘big game’ feel and solidify the team comradery. So, Chris made the decision to donate his Employee-Directed Gift towards offsetting the cost of attending The Ottawa Year End Tournament for Roger Neilson House. Chris said, “I realize that for many families, the cost of having a child play on a hockey team can be extremely high and that tournaments add an additional cost. Donations like Martello’s can offset the cost of tournaments for all players making the overall cost more manageable and ensuring that all players get to be included.”
The Ottawa Year End Tournament is a highlight for the team to participate in and to date over $281,000 has been raised by the OCMHA to support the Roger Neilson House – which provides resources and facilities to children and families in the CHEO Palliative Care Program. “Every year, OCMHA players cap off their season by participating in the Ottawa Year End Tournament for Roger Neilson House. This year, Martello’s Employee-Directed Gift was matched by OCMHA and paid for the cost for the 4 Initiation Program teams to enter the tournament. We are always proud to participate in this tournament and support the amazing work being done by the Roger Neilson House in our community”, said Bryan Gormley, OCMHA president.
As Martello continues to be a part of so many moments that make up our employees extraordinary lives we get a glimpse into what really matters and how sometimes, just the seemingly smallest gesture can have the biggest impact. For these young hockey players, getting to participate in a ‘big’ tournament that in turn supported such a worthy cause had a significant impact on the kids and our community. Continue to watch the Martello blog as we share more stories through our Employee-Directed Gift Program.