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This article was published 25/6/2017 (1309 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
While most of the hockey world spent the weekend analyzing the NHL draft and talking about the Las Vegas Golden Knights, Mark Scheifele and some of his well-known friends were busy focusing on the grassroots level of the game.
The 3rd Annual Mark Scheifele Hockey Camp took place Saturday and Sunday at the Bell MTS Iceplex. Over 220 young skaters had the opportunity to play with and learn from Scheifele and a group of players from the Jets organization that included Josh Morrissey, Michael Hutchinson, Kyle Connor, Jack Roslovic, Eric Comrie, JC Lipon and Quinton Howden as well as former NHLer Andrew Murray. All proceeds from the camp are donated to KidSport Winnipeg, an organization that helps make sports affordable for families and kids in the community that need financial assistance.
Scheifele says he followed everything that transpired in the NHL this past week, but he looked forward to taking a step back from the business side of hockey and hitting the ice with the kids for a good cause.
"I was a kid that loved every sport. Sports made me the person that I am. Obviously, it’s tough to see a kid unable to play sports because of financial reasons, so being able to give so many kids that opportunity to play sports is really big for me," says Scheifele.
Scheifele is coming off his best season as a pro, scoring 32 goals and adding 50 assists. He also won a silver medal at the World Hockey Championships for Team Canada and played on the top line for Team North America with Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews at the World Cup of Hockey. Despite all the recent success and accolades, Scheifele still makes it a priority to give back to the community.
"In my mind, it’s a privilege to be in the situation that I’m in. If you have that chance to change someone’s life, even if it’s just one kid or a lot of kids, you can never take that for granted. That’s why I do what I do," he says.
Ten-year old Nate Arsenault of the Fort Garry Flyers was one of the lucky kids to play with the pros on the weekend. Nate said being on the ice with the players is "cool and exciting" and that his favourite moment from the camp was getting to pass a puck back and forth with Kyle Connor Saturday.
"It’s truly amazing. It’s great that they offer their time like this. The most interaction (the kids) have with them is through the television, looking at their stats in the paper or watching the highlights. So to see them up close and spend quality time with the kids is great," says Nate’s father, Paul.
Mike Witoski, the chair of KidSport Winnipeg, says the hockey camp, as well as Scheifele’s golf tournament fundraiser, raises enough money to cover almost all of the organization’s costs for the year. In the past two years, the Scheifele hockey camp and golf tournament has raised more than $215,000. But he says the events don’t just help raise money, they also raise a ton of awareness.
"Before I got involved with the charity, I never knew it existed. It’s guys like Scheifele that has really helped to get the word out," says Witoski, who’s been involved with KidSport for four years.
"You mention KidSport now and people are aware of the organization. Honestly, three years ago I would talk to parents and kids who would qualify for KidSport and they had no idea it existed."
KidSport Winnipeg and Scheifele have helped a lot of kids get off the sidelines in three years. For Scheifele, coming to Winnipeg during the off-season to help out is an easy decision.
"The smiles on the kid’s faces and the joy you can see in their faces is good enough for me," he says.
The adults will have their turn to have fun with Scheifele and his friends today at the Niakwa Country Club for the 3rd Annual Mark Scheifele Golf Classic.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @TaylorAllen31
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.