Former NHL Hockey Player Kevin Weekes Meets with Fourth Graders
Kevin Weekes came to visit the fourth grade on February 26. The former NHL hockey star was a goalie who played 348 games and currently is a broadcaster for NHL Networks.
Mr. Weekes didn’t begin his talk with skates and sticks and pucks, but with the critical importance of family and the wisdom of parents. He noted that after attention to family, the most important values were respect, listening, curiosity, and caring for and empowering yourself and others.
The black professional hockey player had a somewhat unlikely start as he spent his early years in Barbados before moving to Toronto. Mr. Weekes noted that moving from the Carribean to Canada helped him learn to value and appreciate those with different backgrounds and that became a huge strength for him in his professional career that took him from Quebec to Florida. He learned early on that everyone matters.
Mr. Weekes encouraged students to dream big. He knew from the time he was six that he wanted to be a professional hockey player—a dream in which the odds were stacked against him. But he reminded the students that a work ethic and commitment were essential to realizing big dreams. His parents, he observed, were as committed as he was. His hockey playing in high school required travel and was expensive. His parents made many sacrifices so he could pursue his dreams. They didn’t take trips back to visit friends and family in Barbados because they needed to save money for his hockey travel and lessons.
He said as a black player, he encountered prejudice, and he was often not treated fairly. But he said it also taught him to be accepting of others. New York City, Mr. Weekes noted, is a wonderful city full of infinite diversity and opportunity. He told the students to know “who you are” and “where you came from.” Barbados he pointed out has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. He came from a culture that valued education and his parents emphasized commitment to school as well as to his passion, hockey.
Mr. Weekes exhorted the students to: “Never want to stop learning” and to remain always “hungry to learn.” He left the fourth graders with the powerful reminder that “everyone is capable of greatness.” His warm enthusiasm and wisdom made a powerful impact on students and teachers alike. He was, quite simply, inspirational.
Thank you to parent Paul Theofanous for arranging the visit. We hope to bring Mr. Weekes back to MMS to speak with more children soon!
-By Ms. Burton and the MMS fourth graders