Holiday community outreach a must for West Coast Renegades
Within all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the West Coast Renegades found a way to make a difference recently in the Salt Lake City area.
And not only did the teams do that, but they contributed in an impactful way that seems to mean more this time of year.
“Community service is a guaranteed must for the West Coast Renegades,” said the organization’s director of hockey operations Adam Bartholomay. “It is our goal to make sure our players are learning how to give back to the community that is giving them so much. Not all of us are as fortunate and it gives these players something to give back to the community, teaches the young players great respect for what they are earning.
“It was our goal to start an organization that taught young athletes more than what was on the ice.”
The Renegades teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation at the Utah Olympic Oval to collect Christmas cards to be “mailed” to Santa Claus in hopes that some of the letters come true. In attendance were the 13U, 14U, 16U and 18U teams.
One 16U player, Matt Groves, knows firsthand what it means to have one special wish come true.
“The Make-A-Wish Foundation is very important to me personally – my younger sister had leukemia when she was five years old,” said Groves. “I have been a receiver of a Make-A-Wish experience and I can tell you it is an amazing experience that fills you with hope and something fun to do as a family that is not just about being sick. I love helping to raise money to help pay for other wishes.”
Matthew Morton, another 16U player, said he’s happy to be in the position to help others.
“I have been very fortunate to be able to play hockey and start to achieve my dreams, but for many kids, they are not able to have the opportunity I have been given,” said Morton. “I understand the importance of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help fulfill the wishes and dreams of children and their families. I was honored to participate in the Make-A-Wish foundation at the Oval and I hope to do more events in the future.”
Morton’s sentiments were echoed by teammate Philip Shemyakin.
“The event that took place at the Oval was an amazing time for our organization to give back to the community and I felt grateful that I could participate to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” said Shemyakin. “Usually, I don’t have much time in the day to help the community with juggling school and sports, but the few times that I do, it’s so much fun and I think that giving back is something that any athlete should do because it’s a privilege to play the sport that you love.”
“I thought it was a great experience that helped to benefit an even better cause,” added 16U player Connor Smith. “And I enjoyed spending time with my teammates in the process.”
A pair of 14U players – Titan Anderson and Brock Fizer – also added their take on the community outreach.
“The best feeling was seeing kids smile and knowing that I am giving back to the community and giving other kids a happy Christmas,” Anderson said.
“Volunteering at the Olympic Oval was really fun and it meant a lot to me because I got to give back to the community where we practice,” added Fizer. “It feels good to do something nice for someone else.”
Along with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Renegades will be teaming up with the Ronald McDonald House to again prepare and serve food later in the holiday season to those less fortunate.
— Matt Mackinder