U15 Okotoks Oilers becoming leaders on and off the ice

Mar. 29, 2024

OKOTOKS - A group of Okotoks Oilers hockey players decided to celebrate acts of kindness at their school.

U15 Tier 1 players Thomas and Dylan Williams, Cooper Crook, Ty Brockhoff, and Aubrey O’Brien wanted to raise school spirit while also raising awareness about the Hockey Alberta Provincial Championship tournament they were hosting March 21-24 in Okotoks.

The players, who all attend Meadow Ridge School in Okotoks, were presented with a pilot project where they spent most of a day in the gym teaching hockey skills and sportsmanship, and leading activities for students in grades three through six. They decided to do a contest where a student got the opportunity to drop the puck at the opening ceremonies at the U15 Provincials. The students decided to run a kindness draw, where carrying out a good deed entered you into the draw.

“We were kind of thinking what we could do to reward other students,” said Crook. “We thought what's the best way to bring people together? And we thought it was kindness and hockey.”

The contest ran for two weeks and saw an uptick in acts of kindness around the school. The student who won the contest was sixth grade student Riley Gustafson, who is a hockey player herself.

“She consistently was cleaning up the classroom, holding doors for people, always offering to help out. She's just such a great kid,” said Heather Crook, a teacher at Meadow Ridge, who helped the group organize their contest. “Anything she's asked to do, she'll do it. She's always happy. Really, really, really loves the sport of hockey. She really wanted to have an opportunity to, to do this. It worked out well.”

The five players are part of the oldest grade at their school, which ranges from kindergarten to Grade 9. They thought it was important to set a good example for the younger students.

“You have to set a good example before and after because (other students are) always watching you and looking up to you to see what you can do,” said Thomas Williams. “It’s really important to show them how to do the right thing.”

Grade five and six students were invited to the opening ceremonies as well as the Oilers’ first game of the provincials, but the team noticed they had much more support once the game was about to start. Students from grades three to nine came to the game with their families and created an incredible home ice atmosphere.

“It's cool to see a bunch of people I didn't even expect to go ended up showing up,” Dylan Williams said. It was great to see them and have their support.”

“It was really fun because some of them, most of them have never really seen us play hockey or known us that well,” Brockhoff said. “They were all kind of chanting and had a whole bunch of posters, so it was really cool. Definitely our loudest game of the season.”

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