The City of Yellowknife hosted motivational speaker Reggie Leach yesterday at the Yellowknife Community Arena.
Leach is a retired right winger who played 13 seasons in the NHL and was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in July. He is also an inductee in the Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Hall of Fame and has received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award.
This is not his first time visiting Yellowknife.
“This is our seventh year with the Shoot to Score camp here,” says Leach. “It’s a wonderful experience to be here because the people are so nice and gentle and the kids are just wonderful to work with. Plus it’s a hub for the northern communities, we have a lot of kids that are from north of here that come into the camp also,” he says.
Leach gave a few words of advice to young people looking to follow in his footsteps.
“It’s no different than going to school, I always tell the kids that if you don’t listen you don’t learn,” he says.
It’s like anything else in life he says, giving the example of the workforce. “If you don’t listen to your boss, you’re not going to be there very long.”
In his book The Riverton Rifle: My Story Straight shooting on Hockey and on Life, one of his key pieces of advice for kids is about making choices, he says.
“Whatever choice you make, you own that choice, good or bad,” he says. “And I always says, you try to figure out what that means. They figure it out,” he says.
Leach says that working with First Nations youth is something that is close to him, personally, as a member of the Berens River First Nation.
“Being First Nations myself, and being Ojibwe, and the struggles I had as a young person, with the racism that I dealt with as a youngster, and the bad mistakes I made and bad choices, I think it’s very important for me to give back to the community and get the kids on the right path.”
“And talk about life choices, talk about the drugs and alcohol, talk about everything that we as First Nations people struggle with,” he says.
Leach says he’s more proud of the work he does today speaking with youth than his career as a professional hockey career.
He has some words of advice for parents too.
“Pay attention to your kids,” says Leach. “When they want to talk to you about something important, give them that five or ten minutes that they want to talk to you, don’t leave them short-handed. A lot of the time what happens is if you don’t talk to them, sooner or later the kids are going to get into trouble. So give the kids some time.”