Good sportsmanship and an honest effort at school have paid off for a local midget hockey player.
Seventeen-year-old Donavan John has played for Hope & District Minor Hockey since he was five years old and he’s in his graduating year from midget hockey – and from public school. His achievement at school and his clean style of hockey play caught the eye of his team manager, Rina Piovesan, who encouraged Donavan to apply for the second annual PCAHA Fraser Valley midget C scholarship tournament.
“Rina told me about the tournament and asked if I’d want to go in it,” said Donavan on Monday. “I agreed right on the spot and she nominated me, some time before Christmas.”
The tournament is open to 17-year-old midget-level hockey players who are in good standing in their high school courses. Sportsmanship is also a key requirement, so any player who has been handed a match penalty or a gross misconduct in the season is ineligible, as is any player with excessive penalty minutes.
No problem for Donavan.
“I barely got over 10 minutes in penalties in about 20 league games,” he said.
For some players, that would be an average per week. Considering that Donavan is a defenceman – charged with keeping the attacking players at bay – such a low penalty count is even more remarkable.
“Your academics are important, too,” added Donavan, who has already been accepted to Thompson River University (TRU) next year.
The Fraser Valley was split into four teams: North, East and two from the West, with Donavan joining 16 other players on the East squad for the tournament which ran from March 12 to 17.
“We had three practices together, then we were notified by email that I had been chosen as assistant captain, which was pretty cool.”
Each team had $500 in scholarship money up for grabs.
“During each game, every player from each team was ranked on a one to five scale, with five being good,” explained Donavan. “The top player from each team won a $500 scholarship.”
Sadly, it wasn’t him.
“But, we won first place,” he said, beaming as he held up his engraved medal. “We won all four games.”
Last weekend, the John family traveled to Merritt for the Team BC tryouts for the National Aboriginal Games, which will be held in Saskatoon.
“There were over 80 players, from age 14 to 18, trying out for it,” said Donavan. “They said they could only keep 22 or 24 and unfortunately, I was cut.”
“I was cheering for Donavan,” piped in his younger brother Kaleb. “I was saying ‘Go, Donavan, go!’”
Donavan’s mom Tanya said, “I’m really proud of Donavan for making the scholarship team and trying his best. I’m also proud of his trying out for Team BC and even though he didn’t make it, I’m sure there’s something even better waiting for him.”
“There are opportunities that are always there,” added Donavan’s dad Shane, who has been his coach every year, “and you should always keep striving for the highest level – and be able to keep your head held high, when faced with adversity.”
Donavan looks forward to next year, when he can try out for the TRU team that plays other universities in the province.
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Hope Arena will be taken over by atom-aged players from Abbotsford and Mission for a two-day hockey clinic this Saturday and Sunday. The entire rec centre will be closed for staff holidays on Good Friday and Easter Monday and the arena ice will be removed starting Tuesday.