Oceanside minor hockey coach up for award

Modest Kevin Kivela didn’t want to be nominated but accepted for team’s benefit

Local minor hockey coach Kevin Kivela

Local minor hockey boosters would be well served to cast their vote online March 23-24 in support of one of their own.

Longtime Oceanside Minor Hockey coach Kevin Kivela, it turns out, has been shortlisted from 1,000 entries from across Canada as one of the 100 finalists representing five regions chosen in Kraft’s Hockey Goes On contest.

“I just got word this morning,” said a pleased Erica Bailey, Peewee hockey tournament co-ordinator and Oceanside Peewee Mavericks team mom. “It’s great.”

The finalists were all chosen by a panel of judges, but it’s the votes that count now as the top vote-getter in each region will be awarded $100,000 for their Hockey Canada-affiliated minor hockey association of choice, while the next 20 nation-wide will receive $20,000.

“That could do a lot for any association,” said Bailey, “so the next step is we need to get lots of people on board to go online and vote for him (visit www.krafthockeygoeson.ca).”

In the letter submitted by the team, which is now online for all to see, parents of the team talk about his commitment.

“He spends countless hours making up new drills, writing a weekly article for the kids; focusing on the positives, and doing all the other things that coaches do. He makes it fun for the kids while teaching them vital skills.”

“He’s awesome,” Bailey said with a big grin between games at Oceanside Place last weekend, adding the team nominated him and she filed the application March 8.

A contractor by trade, Kivela, 42, married and a father of two sons and a daughter, has been a volunteer minor hockey coach for 12 years. His two older boys Wyatt and Brant both played minor hockey and his daughter Baylee is a spark plug and leading scorer on the Mavericks.

“It’s a great age to coach,” an upbeat Kivela, known simply as ‘coach’ to too many kids to count, said Sunday as the Mavericks took to the ice to take on the Campbell River Bears. “It’s nice to be able to draw up drills and then see them execute in game play.”

“I didn’t know about it until about 20 minutes ago,” Kivela said later that night when The NEWS caught up with him, and explained how back at the start of the process, when he was approached about providing a photo for the nomination, “I told them no I didn’t want to be in it, I said it’s not about me, it’s about the kids,” he recalled, then conceded: “Now that I realize our association has a chance at that kind of money…I mean yeah, that would be pretty cool.”

“He’s the kind of guy who won’t toot his own horn,” Bailey confirmed, explaining how “after he found out about the nomination he said he was thankful, but all he really wants is to be able to coach the kids again next year.”

“I am really getting excited thinking about how our kids could benefit from this,” Kivela surmised. “It really has nothing to do with me, I was just lucky enough to make it into the top 100, I don’t know where it’s going to go, but who knows — I can think of lots of things the association could spent the money on.”

Pressed for some examples of what could be done with the Hockey Goes On money, he paused for a second then pointed out, “This is a great chance for every Oceanside player to benefit, and it would be nice if the entire Oceanside Minor Hockey could get behind this.

“We could use new jerseys, both home and away,” he said. “Maybe we could set up something for kids that can’t afford hockey; maybe we could set up some kind of program where we go into the schools at the Kindergarten age and recruit future hockey players so that we can grow our associations, or help the females get a better locker room that is large enough to hold more than three or four players.”

TO VOTE FOR KEVIN visit www.krafthockeygoeson.ca., click on the Pacific button, and find his profile.

The voting will take place for 48 hours only — March 23 (starting at 6 a.m. PST) to March 24 (9 p.m. PST).