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Friday, February 10, 2012

Time to Pay it Forward!!!!

Seeing that it is now Hockey Day in Canada I thought it was the perfect time to get another blog up right away... and I believe it is necessary to do so considering how many people put forward so much of their time to make this game as amazing as it is.

If you are reading this blog chances are somewhere along the line you have either played minor hockey, coached or have been a hockey Mom or Dad with the emphasis being placed upon the 2nd or 3rd options. Growing up as a kid in NL and like most rural places across this vast country if it was not for your parents volunteering hours upon hours of their time to either coach or put themselves forward as a member of your local association then you probably would not have been able to have an organized game of hockey or association. I was no different than any of the 1000's of young kids across Canada in that my Dad gave up so much of his spare time to help and provide me with a game of hockey, even though he worked so hard day after day under treacherous conditions in a local paper mill so that his boy could experience the joy of hockey even though they probably never realized the full extent of what they were doing for us at the time, and to be honest with you I never did either until my Dad passed away nearly 20 years ago.

The reason this stands out in my head so much is that for a brief period of time I did not want my father involved because I wanted to show and prove that I was capable of making the All-Star team or being successful without his help. This experiment lasted 1 season as I soon realized that people like my Dad are few and far in between, but every now and then you come across someone that puts everything aside and gives everything he has for the good of the game and to pass on to another generation the importance of hockey and how it can shape a child's life. More times than not this is done without even knowing how important the skills that are developed from being involved with minor hockey.

One such person as this is a man by the name of Tom Higgins, who coached minor hockey with my Dad for years. Tom has recently been diagnosed with ALS and is still living in Corner Brook and was one of my Dad's best friends. Tom has volunteered God only knows how many hours of his time to the GAME and is now in the biggest game of his life. This man, like my Dad I believe were way ahead of their time in that they never truly realized the impact that they had upon the young men and women that they coached during their days as a minor hockey coach. If we were to take a poll of the hundreds of kids they coached during their time they would definitely mention him as having a major influence upon their lives.

I never really truly recognized how amazing this man was until a few years after the passing of my Dad when I decided that I wanted to try and start a Summer Hockey Program for kids in our area and continue to open doors for young men and women as Tom did for so many years. You see, Tom had a son who played minor hockey and he was by his side every step of the way until he finished minor hockey...then Tom did something special that doesn't happen all the time, he continued to coach and have such an amazing impact upon many a hockey player. Just to give you an example of the dedication and thought process into this man, he contacted me about 5 years ago when the local AAA midget hockey program was about to collapse on the West Coast and said Todd why don't you submit your name as Head Coach and I'll help you. Now I was living nearly 700 kms from Corner Brook at that time but he was determined to make it work, not for him, not for me but for all those kids that were going to lose the opportunity to do what I did, which was to chase a dream. He had absolutely no ties to anyone in the program but was thinking that this could work and it would be a great chance for these young players to learn. We conversed for hours and thought that we could make a difference but in the end it just did not work out for him.

Tom is a man who has put everything and I mean everything in his life on hold for the good of the game. He continued to coach and have such an important impact upon many a child long after his son Thatan had left the game and if you doubt this one bit at all just ask any of the young men and women that he coached and I guarantee you that they will attest to the fact that he helped shape them to become the person they are today!!!

Why am I putting this out there like this now, because for the simple fact that now as an individual and a former player I want to help out someone who has had an ever lasting impact upon my life and if you are one of those people that have had the chance of knowing him then you know exactly where I am coming from. In a little over a week, on Monday February 20th there is a fundraiser for Tom in Corner Brook and I encourage each and everyone of you that have had the opportunity of knowing this amazing person to show your support and give back to someone that has given up a huge part of his life for not only the game but for YOU as an individual. Believe it or not but he has had a major impact upon your life in some way or shape that you are not even aware of if you have been coached by him. Tom has sacrificed a large part of his life, which I am sure that has cost him a large part of his life to make sure you were able to experience the many amazing things that this game has to offer.

Contrary to what you may think or feel right now, this man has not stopped helping others, he continues every day to sacrifice himself for the good of others as is evident by his involvement in ALS research and being involved in trial studies, so from one player to another I urge you if possible to come out to the fundraiser hockey game on February 20th to if nothing else allow Tom to see that you are so grateful for everything he has done during his life to make yours better!!!

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you all at the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook on February the 20th to say THANK YOU TOM!!!

In the words of one of my favourite people who have also donated only God knows how many hours to this game............,Mr. Don Johnson...... God Bless and Good Night.



  1. I cannot thank you enough Todd. My Dad is really going to appreciate this. He thought the world of your Dad and misses him every day.
    Tom’s personal profile is here

    The link to the Group that Thatan created

    And this is a link to the Event that I created as part of the same Group

    By the way, you may want to mention that Tom never got to play Minor Hockey himself. Coming from a large family with a father who passed away early, Tom didn’t have that chance. He certainly wanted the boys he coached to have that chance and worked for decades to make their dreams come true.
    Donations from those who cannot attend in person may be emailed to and we are entering names in a draw for a $25 Canadian Tire gift card, which can be mailed to the winner.

    Todd, I am very touched that you have chosen Tom as your blog topic.

  2. Todd Gillingham,a fine young man who was well raised by the best of parents. Your Dad would be so proud of you Todd, as he always was! I can't believe it's been 20 years since your marvelous Dad passed away. It seems just yesterday he and Tom were toting hockey kids to and from games. He's never been forgotten by his buddy!