Quesnel hockey player gives back to the game he loves – Quesnel Cariboo Observer
It has been a strange year for Myles Mattila.
This is his first year not playing competitive hockey, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced him to take early retirement.
Mattila, who grew up in Quesnel, played for the Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL).
Just because he doesn’t play on the ice doesn’t mean Mattila isn’t trying to change the culture of hockey. A group he founded, MindRight, for Athletes strives to provide mental health assistance to athletes who may not otherwise have access.
The group also awards the Grant Sheridan Scholarship, awarded to a KIJHL player in honor of the late owner and Chief Executive Officer.
“There’s a lot of burden on these hockey players, who have to pay for hockey and try to go to school at the same time,” said Mattila.
“I am really fortunate to launch this initiative with the Grant Sheridan scholarship to enable individuals to follow their passion. “
Giving the scholarship is a personal joy for Mattila, who is finishing her final semester at Okanagan College. He is on the verge of obtaining a Bachelor of Business Administration and is already accepted to Thompson Rivers University for a Masters of Commerce program.
“I really enjoyed playing in (KIJHL) and going to school at the same time,” Mattila said.
“I wasn’t ready at that age to make a choice between hockey and school. I was very lucky to do both at the same time.
This is his first year in school without also playing competitive junior hockey.
“It’s been a transition for sure,” he said.
MindRight is also partnering with Kids Help Phone to raise awareness and provide resources to an audience that Mattila says can be difficult to reach.
“I have found that working with athletes is sometimes so difficult because there can be additional obstacles, they can feel like they cannot reach out,” he said, adding that ‘one in five Canadians report suffering from some sign of mental illness each year.
The company focuses on early intervention and peer support, using hockey as a means to reach players who may be struggling.
“This is the most important thing through MindRight, just to raise awareness, to spread awareness and to let players know that they are not alone,” said Mattila.
“There are so many different factors when it comes to mental health, and I think it’s really important to emphasize that topic how important it is.”
Mattila said it’s increasingly common for KIJHL players to play hockey and attend some sort of post-secondary institution. He said about half of his teammates in Kelowna are taking some sort of post-secondary training to help them prepare for life after hockey, adding that he hopes to expand the Grant Sheridan scholarship, awarding it to more players. every year.
“The numbers are growing every year,” Mattila said of the number of players taking post-secondary education while playing in the KIJHL.
“Before… a lot of players would go to Junior B just to play hockey, but all of a sudden we start to see them join these hockey clubs and go to school, which is fantastic.
Between MindRight and the school, Mattila also started a business, mapping boats during the summer months in Kelowna.
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