Thomas Hickey believes organized sports are very beneficial to kids and sets them on the right path in life.
“It teaches them a lot to be involved with a team sport,” the Stephenville Minor Hockey coach said.
Hickey was honoured as Coach of the Year at the Stephen Awards Banquet held at the Royal Canadian Legion in Stephenville on May 5, the first time in decades for the category.
“A coach of the year is often recognized for his/her accomplishments of winning games, tournaments and provincial titles but Tommy (Hickey) helped me improve as a hockey player and taught me a life lesson,” nominator Alex Kidd said.
She had been playing in Under 15 Female House League Division when she went from a strong athletic and outgoing person to a bed- and couch-ridden sick individual during the 2017-18 hockey season.
It was in the later stages of her illness Hickey encouraged her to attend hockey practices and stand at the bench to watch and offer suggestions, attend team meetings and dry land training. He regularly sent texts to her dad and emails to her ensuring she would go to games and practices.
When their U15 team hosted the provincials, he wanted her there to watch the games and support the team, telling her she was on the team and he expected her to be there.
“As hard as that was, I knew he was right,” Kidd, daughter of Elizabeth and Vince Kidd, said.
She said life is full of adversities and her coach taught her to never give up on herself, stay involved, be strong and positive and because hockey is only a game, your health is more important.
Kidd was back playing hockey this season and very active on the basketball court.
Hickey played hockey in Windsor, N.S., back in high school and a lot of pond hockey in Newfoundland. He played a bit of recreation league hockey in Stephenville back in 2003.
It was a decade later while taking his daughter, Kendyl Hickey, to the rink to play hockey he stepped in when he realized help was needed in coaching.
Starting out as an assistant coach five years ago, the last three years he has served as a head coach in Under 15, Triple A and Under 20 female.
He has been involved in the bantam and midget divisions and coached Triple A female for three years.
“I just enjoy the camaraderie of the kids in the sport,” Hickey said.
He said when Alex came here from Ontario it was unreal how she fit right in with the girls.
“It said a lot for the group of girls from here – how open they were to accept her.”
Hickey called Kidd an amazing athlete and said it was heartbreaking to see a competitive athlete get so sick but great to see her active again.
“She’s a great young lady and very respectful on and off the ice and basketball court,” he said.