Grow With The Pros! Mentor Program

In the spring of 2016, the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA) executed its inaugural Grow with the Pros! Mentor Program in St. John’s, Newfoundland where two local minor hockey teams were provided a one-of-a-kind hockey experience to develop on and off the ice with PHPA Members Mac Bennett, Gabriel Dumont, and Brett Lernout of the St. John’s Ice Caps.

The three player mentors ran a one-hour on-ice skill development session, followed by an interactive off-ice panel style discussion where PHPA mentor instructors left a lasting impression by detailing their hockey journey to date including the adversity they had to overcome to make it to the professional ranks, while explaining the importance of teamwork, character, and maintaining a positive attitude. The event concluded with each participant having the opportunity to sit across the table from the player mentors for an official contract signing.

CLICK HERE to watch a video recap of the inaugural PHPA Grow with the Pros! Mentor Program

“Based on the reaction from the players, kids, coaches, and parents involved, this inaugural event was a tremendous success and we look forward to expanding the program to more markets next season,” said Darryl Dionne, PHPA Director of Communications and Business Development.

In fact, after PHPA Executive Director, Larry Landon, unveiled the program to the American Hockey League Board of Governors at their 2016 summer meeting, more teams approached the PHPA about executing the Grow with the Pros! Mentor Program in their market.

The PHPA then aligned with Meridian whose shared values and commitment to growing the game at the grassroots level while fostering skill development and fair play in sports was a natural fit to become the program’s Presenting Partner.

Over the course of the 2016-17 season, the PHPA – Meridian Grow with the Pros! Mentor Program expanded to Toronto with player mentors Andrew Nielsen and Trevor Moore from the Toronto Marlies, and in St. John’s, Newfoundland lead by David Broll, Tom Parisi, and Daniel Carr of the Ice Caps. The Manitoba Moose have already confirmed their participation to host the program in the Fall of 2017 with more markets being announced soon.

At times the player mentors seemed to be having just as much fun as the minor hockey players. “It was a blast taking over the practice,” said David Broll. “Rather than being told what to do for once, we got to run the show. It really brought me back to my roots as to why I started playing the game in the first place.”

Although the practice did involve some high-intensity skating drills, the player mentor instructors also chose some of their favorite drills from their childhood, to remind the kids that having fun is the most important part of the game.

“I remember as a kid when some junior players came out to one of our practices, it was a great opportunity for us to skate with our heroes, someone we looked up to and someone we may want to be like when we grow up,” said Broll, “I still remember that vividly to this day. So if I can provide the same sort of feeling or experience then I’m doing my job right.”

As part of the mentorship component, participants were provided with Meridian branded piggy banks, which many had autographed by the player mentors, along with $25 vouchers which would be added to any savings accounts opened at Meridian, as a means to help nurture financial planning at a young age and in advance of their aspiring professional hockey careers.

Please CLICK HERE for a highlight reel from the PHPA-Meridian Grow with the Pros! Mentor Program event in Toronto, Ontario.

And stay tuned for more details on where the program will be mentoring the next wave of professional hockey players next season.

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