Kindersley Senior Klippers forward Djay McGrath put on a special game of shinny for the kids yesterday:
McGrath made sure hot chocolate and other treats were on hand for those who decided to show up, as kids began making their to the rink shortly after the final bell at school. After a few days of extreme cold, the sun was shining and a perfect opportunity to play some hockey was available.
There are a couple of different reasons that McGrath wanted to hold this special skate. He fondly remembers his time on the outdoor rink as a young kid.
"It's what I was usually doing when I was a kid, right? I would usually get up, go to school, and then afterschool I would head to the rink."
The special feeling may have gone away over time, and now in using his platform as a social media advocate as well as semi-retired hockey player, he is trying to use the game as a way to remind kids to do what they love and remember to put themselves first.
"Now looking back, I kind of shied away from those things, obviously with mental health and what I was personally going through. I just don't want kids to go through that."
McGrath doesn't love to think of himself as a hockey player first, but in his path to mental wellness he feels that maybe helping kids enjoy the game he loves alongside him is a good way to help spread the good work of mental health, especially for boys and men.
"With me doing as little as possible right," McGrath started, "I want to come out here, and just get kids out here and have fun. I want to start something good and let kids experience that fresh air. Especially kids who can't afford to play minor hockey, I just want them out enjoying the game."
McGrath took his talents to the Kinsmen outdoor rink for the first skate of hopefully many, though that isn't the ice pad he grew up on.
"My home one was out in Rosedale. That was the grounds... it was the West Side vs the East side believe it or not... Now that I moved out by the elementary school, this might be my new turf."
There is no doubt Kindersley has some terrific outdoor facilities for everyone to use, and hopefully kids will take advantage of them we are getting closer to the Winter break at school.
There is a good chance you will see McGrath at the local rink throughout the winter having some fun, and you might even notice him on a bigger stage as McGrath is currently travelling around Saskatchewan and Canada doing some mental health speaking for youth.
Expect more on that soon, as McGrath is looking to make a difference.