GOLEM Presented with 2023 Award of Merit, News (Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario)

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Jul 21, 2023 | ALLIANCE Hockey | 2186 views
GOLEM Presented with 2023 Award of Merit
Stratford, ON - ALLIANCE Hockey is pleased to announce that Chris Golem (London, ON) has been named recipient of the 2023 ALLIANCE Hockey Award of Merit.


Watch the full award presentation video HERE!

Congratulations to West London Minor Hockey Association's Chris Golem recipient of the 2023 ALLIANCE Hockey Award of Merit!

Chris Golem was presented with the 2023 ALLIANCE Hockey Award of Merit in front of his peers and colleagues. Chris Dawson, WLMHA provided the award to Chris along with the following recognition  
Not only did Chris exemplify the ideals of ALLIANCE Hockey last season, but he also succeeded in the face of great personal adversity. I will explain the great adversity Chris overcame this past season, but first, it is important to highlight his significant accomplishments – despite the adversity he faced.

I first began coaching with Chris Golem two seasons ago, when he assumed the head coach role for the U9 MD2 team. If he had not stepped up, there would have been no MD2 team, resulting in many kids not having any competitive hockey.  Chris not only stepped up that year, but did a fantastic job, and against great odds, led the team to a tier 3 championship finals.

This year, Chris coached the U10 BB/B team for West London. With many new players, the first half of the season saw the team just barely miss out on BB qualification, and finish as runners up at the North London Nationals tournament (losing in the final to Sault Ste Marie). In the second half of the season, Chris had the team performing incredibly strong, with the team going 12-1-7. The team scored 42 goals and gave up 23 goals in the final 12 games. This was largely as a product of the development Chris put into place for his players. The team then went to the ALLIANCE championships and went undefeated in round robin play, and won 4-1 in the final to win the championship!

While the coaching results were impressive for a team comprised of many new competitive hockey players, there are more important reasons that speak to why Chris deserves the ALLIANCE Hockey Award of merit.
Everyone knows that being a volunteer can be hard. Being a volunteer head coach is even harder. We all know those days when we struggle to step up. And if there are personal challenges and adversity at home, it makes volunteering extremely difficult. For Chris, he faced great personal adversity last year, yet never waivered and, remarkably, succeeded in the face of great adversity.
Just as our past hockey season got underway, Chris’ sister in law was diagnosed with cancer. Undoubtedly, this was extremely hard on his family. But Chris not once let this immense challenge affect his coaching duties. No doubt his family was needing him, but he never once missed a practice or game.

In the month that followed, a sudden and unexpected vacancy was created within West London Minor Hockey, when the President suddenly had to step down. The organization was in urgent need. Chris stepped up, and assumed that position for West, notwithstanding his commitment already as head coach for the U10 team. Chris was responsive and forward thinking, propelling the organization toward a productive hockey season. Chris invested countless hours at meetings, various rinks, and emails and phone calls, all in addition to excelling as our U10 head coach.

But Chris’ adversity did not end there; in fact, it was only the beginning. The following month, Chris’ wife Megan suffered a serious injury. Unfortunately, she was bed ridden and unable to walk, and hardly able to care for their 4 young children. She soon required surgery, which led to several months of great physical limitation. With this issue, it would be enough to warrant Chris stepping down from one or more roles, so he could increase his care for his wife and his kids… but again, he never did, and continued to preserve.

The challenges for Chris continued to mount, and the following month was no different. Yet another vacancy was suddenly created with the West London tournament lead position. Now as President, Chris had an urgent issue to address, with many other organizations and families all set to play in the West London tournament. What did Chris do….he assumed the responsibility for running this tournament and, through his leadership, it went on to be a very successfully run tournament. The time commitment being president and tournament lead undoubtedly created immense work, but I can fairly say that Chris ran all aspects to the highest levels and with success.

And yet, possibly the greatest adversity for Chris this past season was yet to come. In December, Chris was unfortunately seriously injured when he fractured his right leg. It was a bad injury, and he was immediately hospitalized. He was not able to stand, walk, let alone go out on ice and skate. And the second half of our season was just about to resume, too, and Chris had big plans. Chris ultimately underwent two surgeries to repair his leg.
Yet, despite a massive injury and setback, Chris continued to fulfil his coaching duties by well-managing and supporting us, his assistant coaches, all while coaching or running practices (once he was able to walk) from the bench. Practice plans were always well thought out and available to the coaches. Questions or concerns were always addressed in a timely manner. And even though he frequently reminded me that he could still skate better than me on one leg, I can say he did everything in his power to overcome his personal challenges and provide the best development for his team – and he did not waiver!

While player development and results speak volumes to what Chris achieved, it is also important recognize the other aspects of what made this past season great under his leadership. Our team benefited from tournaments, several small ice 3 on 3 scrimmages, outdoor rink scrimmages, fun team building events, such as bowling, laser tag, going to OHL games, and a bus trip to Detroit to watch Wings v. Leafs. Hockey on the ice was fun, but also being a part of our team was fun for everyone involved. Chris even encouraged players to acknowledge birthdays and sing happy birthday to each other in the dressing room.

Chris also modeled responsible civic engagement. The team conducted a food bank drive in December, raising over $300 and boxes of non-perishable goods for the London food back. Furthermore, the team also recognized the initiative of Every Child Matters, and had some discussion of the historical implications and why we wear orange. Chris purchased the orange jerseys for the team himself. The players then practiced in their orange jerseys for various weeks in support of the initiative. Chris developed great players on the ice, but more importantly, great members of our community off the ice.

Chris has demonstrated commitment…. resiliency…. and excellence within this past season. He was an exemplary role model for his players, assistant coaches and the families. He was just as much a pillar of excellence in hockey as he was within the community at large. It would not be an overstatement at all to say this season he was exemplary both on and off the ice!

And while excelling in the sport of hockey is one thing, excelling among such adversity is quite special, and I wholeheartedly congratulate my coach and friend, Chris, for this well-deserved award.

- Submitted by Chris Dawson

Thank you Chris for your commitment and contributions to the game, and congratulations on receiving the 2023 ALLIANCE Hockey Award of Merit!

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- About the ALLIANCE Hockey Award of Merit
The ALLIANCE Hockey Award of Merit Award honours those individuals who have provided outstanding contributions, involvement and service to ALLIANCE Hockey. ALLIANCE Hockey Award of Merit recipients have displayed commitment to the ideals of ALLIANCE Hockey, have worked tirelessly for the improvement of the game at their local Association level and have had a notable impact on both the game and the players involved. Awards of Merit are awarded by the ALLIANCE Hockey Executive Committee.

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