Community involvement goes well beyond playing home games at Hap Parker Arena for the Powell River Kings. The Junior A hockey club is just as busy off ice in Powell River with volunteer commitments.
Head coach and general manager Kent Lewis said he believes giving back is as vital a component in a player’s skill set as any other, and good citizenship is something he works to instil in the team.
“It’s part of being a King,” said Lewis. “We tell kids in the recruiting process that we’re very involved in the community and that our guys are highly respected for it.”
Kings marketing and community relations manager Nadine Porchetta said because the majority of players are from out of town, volunteer activities help them to integrate.
“We’re a small community and it’s really important for them to support the town that’s supporting them,” said Porchetta.
Lewis and Porchetta said the players are eager to help out and engage locally.
“They’re a great bunch of guys,” said Porchetta. “Every year we have a new crew and they’re told right away what the expectations are for community involvement and all of them are always on board.”
This makes for a packed schedule for players who are still in high school or taking university courses.
“Between their schedule for hockey, workouts, off-ice training, school and then all the community relations stuff, those guys are busy,” said Porchetta.
Standing commitments include helping at the Youth Resource Centre on Wednesdays, with a Thursday reading program and at the soup kitchen at Church of the Assumption every Friday.
During the holiday season the team loads hampers for Powell River and District Christmas Cheer Committee, participates in the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign and hosts skating events.
“The skates are always nice,” said team captain Gavin Rauser. “We just did one with exchange students and it was kind of awkward at first because you don’t really speak the same language, but once you break a few barriers it’s great to get to know people.”
An event that is particularly rewarding for the team, according to Rauser, is skating and carol singing with seniors from Willingdon Creek Village.
“They have their wheelchairs and we kind of push them around in the Winter Wonderland,” said Rauser. “The guys always enjoy that.”
Porchetta said the seniors skate is a high point for everyone involved.
“The seniors look forward to it every year and are so excited when they do it,” she said.
Lewis said the tradition of the Kings in the community is a win-win as it benefits not only the town but also the players.
“These are teenagers, for the most part, and they’re learning valuable skills about getting out and helping, and also people skills,” said Lewis.
It is a feeling not lost on the players, according to Rauser.
“As a player it’s nice to give back because everywhere you look someone wants to support the Kings,” said Rauser. “It’s just nice to get those smiles and be recognized out in the community.”
For more information about Kings volunteering in the community, contact Porchetta at firstname.lastname@example.org.