Jock Talk with Joel Charron: My year on the staff

It may not be the championship we originally set out for but it’s the championship we celebrated on Sunday night and it’s a championship   I will remember for the rest of my life.

Sunday night the Amherstburg Midget Major Stars season came to a close after defeating the Windsor Jr. Spitfires 4-2 for the Bluewater title.

Now yes, there is already an article on this story, however there more to it than that. This year, instead of standing behind the boards, I got involved and took on the role of co-manager. I really can’t call myself the manager because, well, Faith Bradt took on 90 per cent of the role and did it to perfection. While Faith took care of everything behind the scenes and then some, I was on the ice with the coaching staff and players.

Although I may have been on the ice, I contributed absolutely nothing to the x’s and o’s part of hockey. I mainly filled the water bottles, made a beautiful puck pyramid before games, prepared the game sheet, opened and closed the gate on the bench and pumped the players tires like no one’s busy.

Basically, I was that annoying little brother that everyone put up with but didn’t have the heart to tell to go away.

Although my role with the team wasn’t as glorious as a trainer or coach, but it was exactly what I wanted.

While the coaching staff of Matt Fox, Ted Jacob, TJ McWhinnie and Mark Pilluti would discuss strategies, I would intently listen, hoping to pick up a crumb of knowledge so I could understand this amazing game that much better.

While the players understood I wasn’t there to give them pointers on their game but merely was there to offer support, build their confidence and give them an ear if they wanted to talk.

I developed pre-game rituals with some of the players, just ask Ryan Holzel and Robbie Lavoie about our head butts before going on the ice or Mikey Popel about our per-game handshake.

I never thought this team would grow on me like it did. Over time the team became a family and the rink transformed into a home away from home.

I felt the ups and downs of every win and loss.

I boasted to everyone, like a proud father when Alex Popel scored the overtime goal to win the Silverstick Regional championship in January and took it to heart when Welland eliminated us from the OMHA playdowns.

I was glowing with pride when my girlfriend Dayna came to watch the team for the first time and was shocked when the boys used her name as the pre-game cheer to honour such an occasion.

When I was frustrated with my progress in learning to skate, it was the players who picked me up and encouraged me to continue.

“Way to keep getting back up today Joel, even though how frustrated you were getting. The boys look up to you, amazing how much heart and desire you have to get better and better everyday,” Mikey Popel said in a text one night after a particularly rough practice.

It was a text that instantly raised my spirits.

To Matt Fox, Ted Jacob, TJ McWhinnie, Mark Pilluti, Zak Parlette, Colin Pretty, Greg Fera, Dean Patterson, Mike Popel, Robert Lavoie, Josh Lamframboise, Matt Rosati, Alex Popel, Eric Shaw, Cody Leeming, Ryan Holzel, Duncan Scott, Kiefer Wright, Conor Marontate, Colin Leardi, Noah Reanud, Mitch Topliffe and Chris Wallace, thank you bringing me on this crazy roller coaster ride. It has truly been an honour to have shared a hockey season with you that I will remember for the rest of my life.

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