Hockey NL congratulates Rod Churchill and Paul Hicks on receiving the Canadian Tire Heroes of Play.
Rod Churchill – St. John’s, N.L.
There is perhaps no minor hockey volunteer more respected in St. John’s than Rod Churchill. For more than a decade, Rod has given so much of his time to the game, overcoming a personal tragedy and using hockey as his form of therapy.
A long-time coach in the community, Rod has been a fixture on the board of directors of the St. John’s Minor Hockey Association for more than 10 years, working his way up to his current position of vice-president.
But his biggest impact has been with the Midget house league in St. John’s. How important is Rod to the league? In addition to spending more than a decade as a coach, he is the namesake of the league’s “Rod Rule” – an extra game is added on to any suspension a player receives from Hockey Newfoundland & Labrador for behaviour not in the spirit of the league.
His contributions to minor hockey in St. John’s have come largely without a child in the game; tragically, Rod’s son Matthew was struck by a car and killed on March 28, 2005. Within days of the accident, he was back behind the bench, leaning on the hockey community for support.
Rod and his wife Desma have created a number of scholarships in their son’s memory, including one for players graduating from the Midget program and moving on to university, and a number of awards have been created in Matthew’s name at his former schools.
Paul Hicks – Corner Brook, N.L.
A true minor hockey volunteer is one that transcends many levels of the game – minor, high school, junior and senior – and gives countless hours to ensure hockey happens in their community. In Corner Brook, that man is Paul Hicks.
Paul started playing the game as a young boy in 1966, and didn’t take off his skates until his senior career ended in 1994. But his biggest impact came off the ice.
At just 21 years old, he was put in charge of the West Coast Junior Hockey League; building a reputation as one of the province’s brightest hockey minds. He then made the jump from junior to senior, serving in a number of roles and eventually building the Corner Brook Royals team that became the first from Newfoundland & Labrador to win the Allan Cup in 1986.
Paul’s favourite role, however, has been that of hockey dad. He got involved with the Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association when his son, Robert, started his minor hockey career in the early 2000s, and quickly accepted an executive role, working his way up to president of the CBMHA.
As a coach, Paul has made a significant impact. He has helped many of his players with the financial side of the game, and is well known for his weekend popcorn runs, making popcorn and delivering it to his players all over Corner Brook.
He’s also taken on the task of organizing Atlantic championships in Peewee and Bantam, and has left his mark on countless infrastructure projects in Corner Brook, including upgrades to the canteen and dressing rooms at the local arena.