Sturgeon Hockey Club awards its 2019-20 SHC Volunteer Award recipients

submitted by Sturgeon Hockey Club

Terry Grykuliak Memorial Award

Terry Grykuliak, born May 17, 1951, passed away tragically en route to his son Tyler’s hockey game in Barrhead on November 19, 1994. Tyler was critically injured. Miraculously, Tyler recovered and resumed playing hockey several months later. Terry was the manager of the Morinville Ice Breakers Atom B team and was an outstanding hockey volunteer for many years. He served in many capacities as a team manager, assistant coach, equipment manager, and a MMHA executive board member. Terry will be remembered as being a dedicated person, always willing to lend a hand in any way he could. The recipient of this award must demonstrate dedication, devotion and a willingness to lend a hand as well as serve in an official capacity as an Assistant Coach, Manager, or SHC Board Member.

2019-20 Outstanding Hockey Volunteer Recipient – John Schneider, President and PeeWee AA Head Coach

“John has been our President for the past couple of years and previous to that Vice President. He is head coach for the Pee Wee AA Sting hockey club for the past 5 years. Volunteers his Saturday mornings to coach intro to hockey. Sits on the Sting advisory committee, the SHC Female committee, the Fort Saskatchewan AAA committee, and has recently been asked to sit on the NAHL committee as well. His dedication to the sport of Hockey cannot be questioned. During his time as president we have seen a lot of growth within the organization. He was instrumental in SHC joining the EFHL. He has helped to drive female participation in the sport. Has helped to drive our coaching mentorship and skills development of our players and referees. As a coach for the Sting John has been instrumental in developing the Pee Wee AA team to being the most improved team from the start of the season to the end year from one season to the next. His coaching success is also shown by the number of players that have been through the program that have gone onto play at the AAA level. Currently, there are approximately 11 former players playing at the AAA level with almost all playing Bantam AA at least. John can be seen at the rink every weekend. If it is not at a SHC rink it will be at one of the surrounding communities trying to scout players and make other communities aware of the Sting program. He holds a number of fall and spring development camps as well to recruit players often at his own expense. John’s contribution to SHC success cannot be measured. He has helped to increase the reputation of our organization and our Executive. Not that long ago I was being told by Hockey Alberta what a bad reputation our organization had, now we are getting praise from Hockey Alberta and other organizations for what we are doing. It is for these reasons that John deserves this award.”

Brenda Stewart Memorial Award – Family Spirit

In 2017 Brenda Stewart, Registrar and Director of Communications for SHC, passed away unexpectedly from a major heart attack. Brenda not only held a major role in SHC, but also the greater role of being a loving and devoted spouse to past president Wayne Gatza. When Brenda came into Wayne’s life in 2009 with not having any kids of her own, it was far from her mind to ever join or much less be a member of a minor hockey association. However, with her generous nature and kind soul she stood by Wayne’s side and together they lived the “hockey life”. She learned everything she could about the game while making it her own brand and exceeding all expectations in her volunteer role within the Association. She adopted the “hockey mom” mentality and had nothing short of the hockey spirit. There wasn’t one family that she didn’t know, one name she couldn’t remember and very rarely did she forget scores and stats of members of her own loving family. She also stepped up and ran the concession on behalf of the Morinville Kings while spending every weekend out of that window watching any game that was being played on the ice. Her dedication and devotion to SHC was seen through everything she did, all without asking or complaining. If asked, she would simply say she did it all for the kids.

The deserving family of this award, in honour of Brenda Stewart, will have proven that they are committed to the well-being of the Association through their volunteerism. They will have shown their willingness to help out and assist while holding a significant role within the Association and/or on the Board of Executives. The players of this family will also have shown their true hockey spirit on and off the ice. The family will be viewed as a huge asset and role model to the families of SHC.

2019-20 Family Spirit Award Recipient – The O’Connor Family (Dave, Jennifer and Daniel)

“Jen volunteers for multiple positions in SHC and has dedicated many hours over multiple years to improve our Association. Jen has been on the SHC Executive Board for several years. Jenn initially took on the roll of Secretary and it evolved into a catch all position. Jenn is the perfect candidate for this award. With the loss of our Registrar, Brenda Stewart, Jenn was one of the board members who stepped up to the challenge and put in countless hours to make sure that nothing was missed in the registrations and all the other tasks Brenda had been doing. When other key roles were available and no one stepped up, there was Jenn taking on the additional task as Midget Director. In the past she also took the reins on the Oil Kings night where she organized tickets for families. She also became a member of the Girls Hockey Committee and it’s successful girls hockey event this year. In my opinion Jenn is the perfect example of a genuine volunteer; putting in the time, helping others in their positions and asking nothing in return. Her husband Dave is a friendly face on the bench and a positive part of the hockey community. Her son Daniel is an on ice volunteer, as a junior coach, with a great attitude towards everyone. The O’Connor Family is deserving of this award because they put themselves and their love of hockey into our Association.”

Junior Coach of the Year
Jennifer Lockridge, U9 – Novice 2 Head Coach

“Jen is an amazing coach. She is always very prepared for practices and games. She treats all kids with respect and gets that same respect back from the kids. Jen has always put the team first and makes sure all the kids are involved and learning at every practice and game! I truly believe she has made every kid on the team a better hockey player and person this season. Before every game she provides different lineups so the kids have a chance to play with different teammates and ensures equal playing time for all. She also makes a goalie schedule in advance to allow players to suit up for practice and learn goaltending skills before playing in the following game. During each game she has a different skill (eg. Passing) that she would love the kids to work on and achieve. She supplies powerade and a sucker that she calls the Powerade Player of the Game and awards it to 2 players at each game. Jen also makes report cards for the kids to note their improvement from the beginning to the end of the year on their passing, skating and shooting skills. SHC needs more coaches like Jen!”

Senior Coach of the Year
Craig Hills, Bantam AA Sting Head Coach

The following are just some of the family and player testimonials that were included in Coach Craig’s nomination:

Family Testimonials:

“Great coaching this year from Craig, Jace and staff for the Bantam AA Sting team has promoted growth in each player. Their coaching style, along with the dedication of time on and off the ice, is tremendous. They motivate each player to work hard and achieve their best results. The team is built on respect, trust, hard work, team play and sportsmanship. The love my son has found for the game this year, is a result extraordinary coaching. The high standards set for the team by the coaching staff has been followed and the results are easy to recognize. Not only is the team exceptional, each member on the team has become a better player and person.”

“My son has a renewed passion for hockey this year and it us all because of his Coaches. Craig and Jace work well together upholding the same philosophies and expectations for the Bantam AA Sting team. Going above and beyond to develop skills, and get to know and bond with their athletes, both coaches display respect on and off the ice. These Coaches are guiding their team to the best season Sturgeon has ever had and it’s because they love their job and truly care about our boys, and the boys know it! My son and his teammates have a profound respect for Craig and Jace and work hard to make them proud. This is a very delicate time in these boys lives and I couldn’t be happier for them to have such strong male role models. Sturgeon Hockey Club is extremely fortunate to have a former player return to give back to his community and make such a positive impact.”

“Coach Craig is more than a coach to our athletes. He knows about each athlete, their interests and he gets to know their parents. This is how Craig is able to make each and every athlete feel that they are an important member of our team. To attest to this, one of the team members began a Snapchat group and called it “family?” and invited the coaches to be part of it. He praises players for doing well and helps them when they don’t understand a drill or play. Practices are tailored to each player and the needs of the team. Practices are high tempo, intense, rigorous and players report the practices to be enjoyable and fun! Their game reflects this.”

“Craig’s leadership is also apparent off the ice as well through video sessions, dry-land training, power-skating, paintball, bowling and team dinners. These are all activities Coach Craig has actively participated in with the team. I have even witnessed team talks about the importance of social media safety, appropriateness and awareness. Our power skating coach and Dryland Trainer have both emailed me about how impressed they are with the effort, respect, determination and positive attitude displayed by our young men. I would attribute this to the leadership of the coaching team.”

“Coach Craig’s first year as Head Coach for Sturgeon Sting showed his outstanding ability to motivate and bond his players. One of the biggest impressions was that he was very conscious at ensuring no player was ever left out. He was inclusive and thoughtful and clearly enjoyed being around the players. At away tournaments, he spent nearly every minute off the ice with the kids, whether in the pool, eating meals between games, or hanging out at the hotel. He would always make sure to keep all players together, rather than having them split off into groups. This type of role modeling is invaluable. Craig was more than prepared for every game, with lineups ready and notes and information on opposition for the team to review before the game. He would sometimes even quiz the players on who they were about to face. He set the tone in the dressing room, and livened things up with his humor if it was quiet. He treated the boys with respect and met them at their level where they could relate to him, making him extremely approachable. He would joke with the boys to make them comfortable and to encourage team bonding. At the same time, he expects 100% effort at all times, and rewards that effort with recognition and praise. Their commitment and dedication to their players this season, both on and off the ice went above and beyond. Our son has had the best season of minor hockey to date in large part due to Craig’s coaching style and abilities. To the best of my son’s recollection, Craig only missed one practice this entire season — he was at every game. The teams record speaks volumes.”

Player testimonials:

“Coach Craig is not just our coach, he is our Friend. He pushes you to get better and we learn something new in every practice. He is fun to be around and helps us when we need it.” – Josh Konanz

“Craig is nice and he doesn’t get mad that much except at the refs. He always encourages us and makes practices fun.” – Ty VanBrabant

“Overall my coaches are amazing and hopefully I will have them next year. Craig has been one my favourite coaches in my 5 years of hockey. He has high expectations of me and hopefully, next year is just as fun as this year.” – Braydin Maio

“Both Craig and Jace have been amazing coaches this year. They are interactive with all of the kids and they strive to see the team excel. They both do individual work with every player to help improve their performance on the ice. Our team is lucky to have them as our coaches.” – Luke Carey

“Coach Craig encourages us to always work our hardest and always brings fun to the dressing room.” – Kale Meinzinger

“Coach Craig expected the best from me at all times. He taught me to always work hard at practice and games and wanted me to learn from my mistakes. He tried to be positive and make Hockey fun. Thanks for everything Coach!” – Ben Roe

“Every time I come to practice or games the mood is always positive with our coaches in the room, which leads to me always wanted to come to practice and to become a better player. The fact that Coach Craig is close to our age makes it so he understands every player well and knows how to help them and when to help them. He is a very approachable coach and will always make you feel positive, and successful after the talk. It has been more than a great year with him this year.” – Ryan Rivard

Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate a deserving volunteer this year!
*Coach, Volunteer and Family Spirit Awards were selected from nominations sent in by SHC members. An Awards Committee, made up of members from the SHC Board of Executives, reviewed the nominations and selected each recipient.

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