When Dave Weloy got the call, he knew it was something he couldn’t turn down, immediately accepting the chance to go for a whirlwind opportunity of a lifetime.
Asked to help create a grassroots movement in any sport or organization is always tough, but making ball hockey work and develop it into a true pastime in the Falkland Islands, of all places.
The tiny island nation is nothing more than a remote dot on the global map – nestled alongside Argentina in waters east of South America.
“It isn’t anything any other volunteer would do in order to see people succeed,” Weloy says before departing for his two-week, working vacation.
“Hopefully they can take what we teach them and build something.”
A coach in all sports for around 15 years, Weloy jumped at the chance to create the momentum that will hopefully result in the sport becoming a popular one in an unlikely location.
He was approached by a man named Marcus Morrison who saw great potential in the game, but didn’t have the resources nor the background to make it feasible.
Weloy teamed up with close friend and fellow ball hockey coach Gary Slavin to create and build a complete coach and player package to the country, and delivered in on-floor drills and in clinics in the Falkland Islands.
His involvement in ball hockey spans all the way back to the 1990s, and Weloy has a distinguished resume within the sport.
Alongside spending a dozen years in the Ridge Meadows Ball Hockey Association, Weloy has also spent time with the prestigious Team B.C. national program and four years in the Team Canada worlds program.
“I love coaching, I love giving back, so all things considered it was a pretty easy decision,” Weloy said before he left. “To be able to help a program start from scratch and help build it is a huge honour and I’m glad they reached out to us.”
The conversation with Morrison was sparked after an International Street and Ball Hockey Federation (ISBHF) World’s Tournament in Sheffield, England. He was sent a chance email by ISBHF president George Gortsos, who was looking for volunteer coaches for clinic’s – and was reaching out to Canada for support.
Weloy called it a proud Canadian moment.
“I was proud that they were reaching out to someone in Canada for skills and strategic support,” Weloy said. “It gives me a lot of spirit and joy and accomplishment to watch the kids grow and build their skills and belief system.”
Weloy says it’s extra special to get a chance to volunteer in budding Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and watch those kids grow through their minor hockey associations. In the summers, you can usually find him at the hockey rink, whether he’s watching or coaching; you can probably catch him there in the winter as well.
“It’s easy to give back,” he said. “I coach for the kids and the opportunity to make a positive difference in their lives. It creates a positive experience for the whole family.”
Coaching is Weloy’s meditation, and you can tell his enthusiasm, not only about hockey, but life, even when you talk to him for just a few minutes. He says his boys, Jonathin and Nathin, as well as wife Tracey, are a huge part of his success and what he’s able to contribute to coaching.
He was helping out with the duo ever since they were old enough to play organized sports – anything from ice hockey to soccer.
He thanks his family, knowing that contributing your time outside of the home is often a tough act to balance.
It’s not all about intensity, winning and success behind the bench all the time, either.
For Weloy, the passion for volunteering and coaching runs deeper.
“The other piece to coaching comes from working with the mind power of each player and how their thoughts will support themselves and their teams in game play,” Weloy explains. “Coaching the mind includes life lessons that will support them as they build their careers, relationship, health, and community.”
He takes that same mindset into the community – and says he’s humbled any time he gets mentioned with people that are able to make a difference.