Winnipeg High School Hockey championship solidifies lessons learned for four WJHA students

April 25, 2023 9:00 am by Jason Friesen Dynamic Featured Image

The moment when a team wins a championship is oh so sweet, as was the case for the John Taylor Pipers boys high school hockey team when they claimed the Winnipeg Free Press Division championship for the Winnipeg High School Hockey League on March 9.

The championship was a big achievement not only for the school, but for the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA) as four of the players on the John Taylor team are products of the WJHA program.

That included Grade 12 student Kayden, the team’s MVP who scored the winning goal in overtime of game three of the best-of-three final series. Kayden’s been with the WJHA since Grade 2.

“It was an unbelievable feeling to win,” said Kayden. “After all the hard work put into the Pipers in my Grade 11 and 12 years, it felt amazing to be able to win this championship. The WJHA definitely helped me by giving me the opportunity to skate most days.”

As Kayden alluded, behind that championship moment are seasons worth of hard work to get to that point. His Piper teammate, and fellow WJHA student Tyrin – who was unfortunately unable to play in the final due a concussion – knows the many hours that were put into the championship win too.

“Success tends to happen if you put in the hours and put in the right work,” noted Tyrin. “It felt like everyone wanted to win, and so we did.”

Solidifying that lesson of putting in the hard work to get results is why coaches at the WJHA considered the John Taylor championship such a win. The WJHA program seeks to prepare students to succeed beyond the ice too, and having the students see the benefits of their hard work on the ice helps that message translate to other parts of life.

“Winning a championship is an important milestone for students at the high school level,” said WJHA Director Murray Cobb. “By winning a championship it reinforces many of the lessons they have learned through hockey, specifically the need to work together with your teammates and the need to strive for continuous improvement that eventually leads to success, even if the results aren’t immediate. These lessons will carry over into their professional and personal lives and are integral to their long-term success as young adults.”

Of course, none of those important lessons come without mentors being present in their lives. Whether those are their John Taylor coaches or their WJHA coaches, having role models to look up to who exemplify those lessons make a big difference, and the WJHA coaches have certainly left their mark on both Kayden and Tyrin.

“While in the WJHA, I’ve made a lot of connections with mentors and have learned a lot of great things from many different people, and I think this impacted me in a very positive way,” said Kayden.

“The WJHA coaches want me to become the best hockey player that I can, and an even better person,” added Tyrin. “I’ve learned many things from them but the biggest is to never watch someone struggle – help them and teach them, and then they’ll start progressing.”

With or without a hockey championship, Cobb knows the WJHA students from the John Taylor team were already on their way to being mentors for the next generation of students. They’ve already started their journeys as volunteers in the True North Youth Foundation (TNYF), and the confidence built through a bonding experience like a championship will only help them on their journey.

“It really serves as an example to other WJHA students what can be achieved through the program,” noted Cobb. “Seeing these young men have success in hockey, similar to seeing them succeed as volunteers and staff with the TNYF through Camp Manitou, reinforces the value of the program in helping students achieve their goals on and off the ice.”