Continuously broaching the topic of mental health and hockey, Kindersley's DJay McGrath is excited for the chance to speak at the 2023 edition of the SJHL Showcase in Warman running November 13-16.
McGrath played three seasons in the SJHL with his hometown Kindersley Klippers.
"I am super excited, definitely one of my goals to get this opportunity to share my story with the SJHL." said an excited McGrath looking forward to sharing his story. "I'll be speaking six times in three days, and hanging out with the boys at the showcase. Just super excited for the opportunity."
This will be the mental health advocates first time working with Saskatchewan's top junior A league.
"This is the first, they follow me on social media and what-not, but this is the first time I'm going to be live sharing part of my story."
McGrath is happy to see where his mental health talks have taken him. New this year, McGrath is a special mental health coach for a pair of teams in the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League.
The U18 AAA level is exactly where McGrath wants to be.
"It's awesome. I really love this age." started McGrath. "I'm with the Tisdale Trojans and Yorkton Maulers. What happened was I went down there for spring camps, both teams, and shared my story. I created some good relationships, and they wanted me back for the whole year."
McGrath works with the players one-on-one, wanting to be someone they can trust. He wants to create a big-brother role so players can feel comfortable on-and-off the ice.
"Whatever it may be, they are not alone, and they can call me. I'm a 24 hour guy and my phone is always on."
"The kids are loving it. I'm building relationships with these kids, and I know they are benefitting from it. They are keeping in touch with me on a weekly basis. It's just awesome, the opportunities I'm getting, and creating those relationships for sure."
McGrath would have done anything to have a hockey big brother.
"Oh man, that's what I tell these kids. I wish I had someone like myself in my dressing room telling me it's ok, that it's ok to have these problems."
McGrath is happy to use his past experiences as a background
"I'm just so thankful I went through what I did, to now have some background, and I can shed some light for athletes. I know they need it more than ever, especially at that age 15-20. They need help, and having a guy who has been in their shoes with some experience is going to go a long way."
McGrath's busy week will continue after the SJHL Showcase. He's set to speak for another one of his former leagues at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Mental Health Day, before taking a trip to Yorkton to be with his Maulers.
The SJHL Showcase is a great opportunity for McGrath to expand his reach even further. The mental health advocate is always active on the social media pages posted above, and anyone wanting to contact McGrath can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.