Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Coalson Wolford has been named the winner of the February Shaw BCHL Community Hero Award.
Wolford and the rest of the Silverbacks can often be found at local schools reading to kids, helping out minor-hockey teams in the area and acknowledging young fans at their games.
“We have three kids skates a week where we’re out with elementary schools, skating with kids and interacting with them,” said Wolford. “We go to the schools and the daycares and do arts and crafts with the kids. It’s kind of constant here in Salmon Arm.”
The entire team participates in these initiatives, but Wolford goes above and beyond in connecting and building relationships with the kids.
“We’re the kids’ role models,” he said. “We’re the older guys that play hockey, which is what a lot of them want to do. I know when I was growing up, the older guys that I would hang around with would seem so much better than me at hockey and it was just fun being around them because one day I wanted to be that good.
“The kids say they love coming back every week. They get to skate with the team and we have a lot fun with them. The parents love it and so do the kids. You can tell because they’re always smiling on the ice.”
Wolford hails from San Jose, Calif. and is playing his first season in the BCHL. Coming to play hockey in a new league and in a new town at 18 years old, he’s been able to quickly forge a relationship with the Salmon Arm community.
“It’s a pretty small town, so everybody loves the team here and they support us,” he said. “We help out with parades, city functions and charity events around the holidays. I think both sides get a lot out of it.”
Wolford is correct in his assessment that both sides get a lot out of it. Wesley Wilson is a Salmon Arm resident and Silverbacks fan. He says that Wolford’s involvement around town has made a huge impression on him and his son Tyler.
“I see Coalson out in the community going above and beyond to help others and leaving a lasting impression on the local hockey community,” said Wilson. “I believe he is an asset to Silverbacks organization and to the community of Salmon Arm.”
As the title sponsor for the Shaw BCHL Community Hero Award, Shaw has committed to donating $500 to the Shuswap Family Centre, a charity in Salmon Arm that supports families in need.
“Through his work in the community, Coalson is proving that a little extra kindness can go a long way,” said Chethan Lakshman, Vice President, External Affairs, Shaw Communications. “The kids in Salmon Arm look up to him and his teammates, and by taking the time to connect with them, Coalson is making an impact in their lives and bringing the community together.”
For Wolford, he doesn’t see his community involvement as extra work. He sees it as an opportunity to connect with the local kids, while spending quality time with his friends.
“It’s a big honour for me to receive this award,” he said. “I’m new to this league, but I’ve spent a lot of hours helping out in the community. It’s just a lot fun getting out there and doing this with the team.”
Shaw will present Wolford with his award at Salmon Arm’s final home game on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m.