DeGroote-Hill AEs earn Great Deeds Cup
Tillsonburg Minor Hockey Inc. introduced a new award last Thursday night during its annual Player Appreciation Banquet at the Kinsmen Memorial Arena.
Wayne Vansevenant, owner of DeGroote-Hill Chevrolet Buick GMC, officially presented the new DeGroote-Hill Great Deeds Cup to the first recipient team, the Tillsonburg DeGroote-Hill AE peewees.
“It all started because Chevrolet sponsors the Good Deeds Cup, and I wanted to get involved with a peewee team locally… so that we could be part of that program,” said Vansevenant.
“It’s just been so humbling to see what these kids have done, how they got out into the community. They’ve really learned a life lesson by giving.”
All TMHI teams are eligible to win the Great Deeds Cup, hopefully inspired by this year’s winning team to do their own good deeds. TMHI will select one team at the end of the season to receive the Cup.
“To the team that does the most community work,” Vansevenant noted.
The AE peewees did their first acts of kindness in the Halloween season, going door-to-door to collect more than 1,000 pounds of food for the local food bank.
“What was so impressive is that it wasn’t just one good deed. They kept doing it, they made it a part of the team’s culture and I love that. I love that they didn’t just stop at one good deed, they kept doing it and doing it and doing it, month after month. Fantastic.”
The coaches provided leadership, said Vansevenant, and the parents supported it and became involved.
“It’s very humbling for me, I’m very proud of everybody and I’m looking forward to being part of this minor hockey award in all the years to come.
“Hockey is a team sport, and there’s so much we can do together in the community. We live in a great town, and if the kids can see the value in investing, that’s just an awesome thing.”
DeGroote-Hill Chevrolet Buick GMC will donate $1,000 every season to TMHI as part of the award.
“In hopes that maybe a child who maybe can’t afford to play the game, will have the opportunity through the donation to get on the ice and be a part of something like this. That’s minor hockey’s decision.”
Vansevenant, who played minor hockey in Langton and Tillsonburg, graduated to play junior hockey in St. Thomas and finished his junior hockey career with the 83-84 OHL London Knights, and later coached senior hockey in Tillsonburg.
“I did play some junior in Tillsonburg when John Gofton was coach, I was 14. I feel I’ve been away from it for quite a while, and it’s been really nice to get back to the rink and be a part of something like this.”
Jeff VanRybroeck, coach of the DeGroote-Hill AE peewees, said the team’s good deeds were an excellent team building exercise.
“As coaches, you’re always trying to find ways to bond them together and do team builders. Knowing that there’s this opportunity, I think coaches will lead towards these type of events as team building opportunities and will get engaged in helping in the community. Especially with Chevrolet promoting the Good Deeds Cup, I think all of the peewee teams will definitely try to embrace it.”
It was a great experience for the DeGroote-Hill AE peewee team, said VanRybroeck.
“It was a great way to see the community in a different light, and to see the kids pushing for something more. A lot of the ideas, they came up with themselves. So to see them coming up with their own ideas how they can help in the community, it was pretty exciting.”
The AE peewees followed up the Halloween food collection with a Coats For Kids collection in the Santa Claus Parade – bringing in 200-300 coats.
The also did a team #payitforward.
“Each kid would do their own good deed and they would tag a teammate to do their own good deed. So we saw kids who made donations to animal shelters, one that went around his neighborhood collecting blue boxes for people, some bought gift cards for different people, it was all kinds of different things.”
The good deeds extended to their interactions with people at arenas, he said.
“They embraced that kind of culture of ‘just helping,’ of being open to the idea. So it was a good experience.”
“For me, I would definitely promote it as a coach.”
And with 500 minor hockey players, had said promoting the new Great Deeds Cup within minor hockey could lead to a ripple effect.
“Promoting them to be volunteers now, that leads to the next generation of volunteers of the future, whether it’s hockey boards or Lions, Rotary… Whatever it may me, you’re actually building that idea of volunteerism within the youth. We know that volunteerism is decreasing in society, so if you start to teach them that a younger age… I can’t see any negatives to it.”
VanRybroeck credited “great parents on the team” for leading the good deeds charge.
“The coaching staff, we supported it. But a lot of those hockey parents were the ones who jumped in and said, ‘hey, let’s do this…’ And, the nice thing about DeGroote-Hill, our sponsor, they were right there at our side. When we had an idea, he (Vansevenant) said right away, ‘We will help you.’ They were there the whole time.
“So having a good team – good parents, good coaching staff, good sponsor and a great group of kids – the whole package kind of came together with the Perfect Storm this year.”