Dakota Kochie wasn’t looking for recognition.
The soft-spoken Murdoch MacKay Collegiate student stood out, though, as he received a City of Winnipeg Youth Role Model Award in Sports from the Citizen Equity Committee at a gala on May 17.
"I’d rather go unnoticed than congratulated at this huge event," the Grade 11 student said.
"It’s not that it’s embarrassing or anything — you should just be doing this type of thing without reward."
Kochie, who was the Clansmen football team’s lineman of the year award this past season and also plays on the school basketball team, has been coaching hoops at Arthur Day Middle School for the past three years. He has also instructed students in basic weight lifting and speed training.
The 17-year-old has also coached football within the Transcona Nationals program.
"I really enjoy it — it gives me fulfillment doing something that I love, teaching something that I love," he said. "I’m not the best basketball player, but I still love the game and I like to pass it on."
The Transcona resident feels he has learned a lot from acting as a mentor for kids, even though he’s not that far removed from being a middle-school student himself.
"The age difference isn’t that much, only a couple years, so I get to interact with them a lot," he said, "but I still have to be that definitive line between coach and a friend."
Kochie explained that, because of his age, some players have approached him with some personal issues, and he was able to be a bridge between them and adult help.
He has also been involved in programs at Murdoch MacKay, serving as a founding member of Students Creating Autism Awareness Together (SCAAT). He explained that drama students were approached to help form the club last school year to shed light on the hardships autistic students face.
In addition to serving as a narrator for skits this year, Kochie has taken a leadership role in the club, doing everything from hauling props to picking up the slack for absent students.
Lisa Cullen, one of SCAAT’s supervising teachers, said there’s plenty that goes into the productions.
"We originally started doing it for teachers to educate them on autism. Then we moved to junior high schools, and then we had to change the presentation entirely to start presenting to elementary schools," Cullen said.
"Dakota has consistently been there for the group, and (he) started out with the group."
Cullen noted that at the end of productions, Kochie and another student list off friendship tips.
"The point is to help students be a good friend — not only to be aware and understanding, but also know what to do," she said.
Kochie has been offered a full football scholarship to Jamestown College in North Dakota, but because he has suffered multiple concussions, he has not yet decided if he will accept by the February deadline. He hopes to pursue a career in physiotherapy.