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AJHL and RBC Announce Community Award Finalists

March 18th, 2020 @ 9:31 am

The Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) in partnership with The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is proud to announce the RBC Community Award finalists for the 2019-2020 season.

Throughout the season, each AJHL team nominated one player as the RBC & AJHL Community Ambassador, in recognition of exemplary commitment to the community.  One RBC & AJHL Community Ambassador will be selected as the recipient of the RBC Community Award and a $2,500 donation will be made by RBC to the charity or Family and Community Support Services program selected by the player.

The four finalists are Adam Sandstrom (Whitecourt Wolverines), Brady Risk (Drumheller Dragons), Taylor Makar (Brooks Bandits) and Duncan Hughes (Olds Grizzlys).

Adam Sandstrom, Whitecourt Wolverines

Adam Sandstrom is a leader both on and off the ice who values the Whitecourt community, his teammates, the staff and billets. His involvement in the community has had an impact in many different organizations. Adam has been involved in awareness campaigns such as Hockey Fights Cancer, Whitecourt Family Violence Initiative, and Junior Reporter interviews at the local elementary school.

Adam has been joining minor hockey teams for their practices and also spent a week of summer break coaching the local Atom / Pee Wee Hockey School group. Adam was singled out by several parents from Hockey School for his attention to teaching and his ability to modify their program in working with different skill levels. He was also commended for his ability to add positive encouragement that built up the confidence of many students in his group.

Adam approaches everything he does with a positive attitude and continuously inspires the team to be involved in the community.

Brady Risk, Drumheller Dragons

According to Brady’s coach, he is always a leader on and off the ice and takes on the small tasks that others sometimes overlook. Brady leads vocally, but his actions are always louder. In the community, Brady is always one of the first to help at any community function and interact and engage the community and fans.

With Drumheller being Brady’s second home for the past four years, it has really become part of his roots.  Brady says, “I think just doing the little things consistently everyday helps build the relationship with the community and the team. Being the RBC Community Ambassador has definitely strengthened my relationship in the community, being able to do extra volunteering such as helping out with breakfast programs, senior’s homes, and other non-profit organizations.”

“We have already made three $1,000 donations this season partnering with the RBC Drumheller branch taking advantage of their ‘Team RBC Grants’. The first donation we made was with the St. Anthony’s School Breakfast Program. Our team and St. Anthony’s teamed up at the beginning of the season and started a hockey academy. Once a week, four players and coaches would run hockey practice then head to the school and help serve students breakfast."

"Our second donation was made to the Drumheller Humane Society; a couple Dragons players and RBC employees volunteered at their Spaghetti Dinner. Our third donation was made to KidSport. Growing up I’ve always had the opportunity to play hockey and I couldn’t imagine not having that chance. So RBC, KidSport, Fun League, and I teamed up to give five kids the opportunity to play hockey for free next season!”

“The experience has truly made it that much harder for me to say goodbye to this great community.”

Taylor Makar, Brooks Bandits

Taylor enjoys having the opportunity to make a difference in the community and inspire others when he can, whether that's through hockey, education or supporting a local cause. Throughout his time in Brooks, it’s been easy to understand that the Bandits team takes pride in the community that supports them so they make sure to give back whenever possible.

“I really enjoy visiting schools and interacting, mentoring and reading with the kids and students because I believe it’s great to play sports but at the end of the day education is just as important as hockey, soccer etc. That's why I have supported the Tilley School Hockey Academy. They strive to create, not just hockey skills, but also life and leadership skills so that students can practice sportsmanship and citizenship all while getting better at academics and athletics. Growing up I was in a very similar academy within my school and it made me realize how joining athletics and academics together is really beneficial for a student athlete to grow both mentally and physically.”

Taylor has been involved in activities held at local schools such as the Brooks Pre-School Book Fair and has also made visits to the Brooks Composite High School, Holy Family Academy, Brooks Junior High School and others. “Myself and a few teammates took a trip to Gem School to answer some questions, hang with the kids and then joined them on the outdoor rink to help them skate and have some fun.”

“I also volunteer for the Salvation Army during the holidays for their kettle campaign where proceeds go to those who are not as fortunate as some of us. I have also supported BAPS with my teammates, which is a shelter for animals that is a no-kill facility that works with other shelter and rescue protection programs to find homes for these pets.”

Duncan Hughes, Olds Grizzlys

The Olds Grizzlys mandate their players to give back in the community through volunteer hours. Duncan Hughes goes beyond the mandated hours and donates his own time to the Olds Elementary School. Here, he helps the students with reading, writing and math, as well as helps teach them the basic fundamentals in gym classes. He also assists with their lunchtime milk program.

On top of his commitments with Olds Elementary, Duncan volunteers at the Horizon School, which is a school to help those with special needs and provides unique programming for their students. Outside of his school community involvement, Duncan helps with coaching goalies and is currently assisting in a morning skate program for young goalies once a week. This program helps them enhance their pre-existing skills as well as develop new ones. To top it all off, Duncan is also the goalie coach for the Bantam Elite female hockey team in Olds.

Duncan’s coach describes him as is a ‘giver’, which is clear when seeing all of the great work and time he dedicates to youth and hockey players the Olds community!

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