TUESDAY, DEC. 14, 2021
It’s a goal scored for girls hockey at Pauline Johnson Collegiate and Vocational School, with a revival of the program happening thanks to some financial support from a Tandia Financial Credit Union grant. Last week, the school learned it would be one of ten schools to receive the Strive for Success grant, which aims to help students thrive by supporting new or existing programs in need of a boost.
|Above: Mike Michaelides, left, is joined by students Alex, MacKenzie and Cara to accept a cheque from Tandia representative Marianne Patzalek, right, last week.|
“I was made aware of this grant by a colleague, Dan Olds, who helps coach boys hockey, after a discussion around the possibility of restarting the girls hockey program at the school,” said Mike Michaelides, assistant department head of physical education at Pauline Johnson, who along with Chad McClung, Melanie Kraemer and John Macdonald, have been working to overcome some of the obstacles to getting it off the ground. “The problem was we had a limited number of experienced players, and an even bigger problem in that many of them didn’t have the proper equipment needed to be allowed to play safely.”
Another problem was a lack of jerseys to wear on the ice, so Michaelides applied for the $1,500 grant, which would help subsidize the purchase of new ones, plus essential safety equipment such as neck guards and mouth guards so players could get started in the game. As a long-time coach of volleyball and soccer, Michaelides knows there’s lots of work to be done still, and likely some difficult seasons ahead as coaches and players build capacity. But striving for success, and simply being involved in sports can be its own reward.
“Not only does participation in sports improve physical well-being, it also helps with mental health,” said Michaelides, noting the effect of playing sports on building healthy lifestyle habits and improving academic performance. “Team involvement improve social relationships with peers, builds belongingness and a sense of community, and that’s something many of these girls have missed out on during the pandemic.”
Grand Erie’s multi-year strategic plan includes creating a culture of well-being to support the cognitive, social, emotional and physical needs of each learner, and sports programs such as girls hockey go a long way to carrying out those goals.
“The hope is to build back the program over the next few seasons to a point where we can compete and hopefully eventually make the playoffs. The players and coaches are working really hard, so I’m proud of their efforts and just happy to help in any way possible.”