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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

EMHA hosts Volunteer Appreciation & Awards Banquet

Photo submitted: Incoming EMHA President Shawn Carswell is pictured with outgoing President Todd Havinga at last Friday evening’s Volunteer Appreciation & Awards Banquet.

submitted to EFP

Last Friday evening, Essex Minor Hockey Association’s (EMHA) coaching staff and Board Members gathered at Belleview Golf & Country Club to enjoy the highly anticipated Volunteer Appreciation & Awards Banquet.

  The annual event is a great way for the local association to recognize volunteers and outstanding coaches, while wrapping up another successful season of hockey.

  “The Volunteer Appreciation Banquet & Awards night is a special evening for the many volunteers involved in Essex Minor Hockey. It is an opportunity for our group of volunteers to come together as an organization and celebrate the dedication and commitment of exemplary individuals who inspire, innovate, and share knowledge of our sport with others,” Sumar Clarke stated, who is EMHA’s Fundraising Director. “The awards night also recognizes the importance of leadership, performance, and the value of human insight which are all integral to great coaching.” 

  Special guest speaker Carter Tomkins was chosen to speak on behalf of all EMHA players to thank coaches and volunteers for all their help and support throughout the year. A player is always chosen to speak at the banquet to help volunteers realize just how much their contributions mean to the many youth who benefit from being a part of EMHA.

  “When I started playing hockey at four-years old, I was frustrated. I couldn’t score, I hated the early mornings, and my equipment weighed a ton. I felt like quitting, until one day a coach kicked me a puck and I scored my first goal. And I have loved the game ever since.”

  He spoke of getting cut from the Novice Travel Team in another municipality when he was seven.  “It crushed me. I didn’t think it was fair. I was still upset when I got to baseball and my coach, Ed Fuerth, cheered me up and told me Essex could use me.”

  He eventually made the team and played a few years. “We won lots of medals that are hanging on my wall and I grew as a player,” he said.

  A few years ago, Tomkins went back to House League because he was playing too many sports.

  “House League gave me the chance to take more of a leadership role and I learned to be responsible for my teammates. I cheered them on, I stayed positive, and worked hard.”

  This season, Tomkins played with old travel buddies. “We lost a lot. I hate losing. At first, I wanted to quit, but then we started to play together as a team, even when we lost,” he said.

  “Through all the losing, I realized how important it is to have each others’ back. I didn’t realize how hard coaching could be until we had this frustrating year. The coaches showed how to never give up.”

  For the past two years, Tomkins has volunteered at the goalie clinics and for the First Shift program, and, “I am learning how great it feels to help kids love the game.

  “After all of my hockey ups and downs, I want to thank all of you coaches for everything you’ve done for young hockey players, because ‘everyday should be a hockey day,’” he said, making reference what he said in an interview with Kraft Hockeyville when he was five.

  Awards are presented to deserving volunteers and coaches at the annual event.   Liam Chissolm was the recipient of The Dale Barry Memorial Award. Dale was a community-minded individual, who dedicated countless hours to Essex Minor Hockey Association. The award recognizes the Local League Coach of the Year, and is presented to a novice, atom, peewee, bantam, or midget local league coach.

  Jamie Paquette was the recipient of the Glen Nottage Memorial Award. Glen Nottage was a tireless and dedicated volunteer, who gave of himself to support the youth of EMHA. This award is presented to volunteers who reflect Glen’s devotion to EMHA.

  Jeff Sadler won the EMHA Honour Roll Plaque for Dedicated Service. This award is given to the EMHA Board Member who consistently goes above and beyond his or her duties.

  Todd Havinga was presented the EMHA President’s Plaque, which is given annually to the President of the association.

  Jane Zelko earned the EMHA Life Member Award, which is presented to an individual based on exceptional service to the organization.

  Liam Chissolm and coaching staff earned the Junior Coaching Staff of the Year.

  Scott Chittle and coaching staff earned the Intermediate Coaching Staff of the Year.

  Gord Colenutt and Tom Robson earned the Senior Coaching Staff of the Year.

  Atom Minor: Jack Weston, Jeff Sadler, Al Fuerth, Joe Diemer, and Craig Cavanagh earned the Travel Coaching Staff of the Year.

  EMHA also paid a tribute to the Humboldt Broncos at the Volunteer Appreciation & Awards Banquet with a minute of silence.


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