Local hockey player recognized for community service

Clearwater’s Piet Oud has been awarded the Jack Koteles Memorial Award for Strong Commitment to Community Service from the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association.

Oud, who is in his third year of Midget hockey, said he was surprised to win the award, which is handed out annually to a player within the OMAHA district who not only dedicates time to hockey, but who is dedicated to community service. The Jack Koteles Memorial Award was initiated to honour the memory of former OMAHA president Jack Koteles, a great humanitarian who passed away several years ago.

“He’s a fantastic young man,” said Ole Kjenstad, coach of the Clearwater Icehawks and has coached Oud since he was in Atom league — over ten years.

“He’s a very charming young man, he’s always concerned about everybody else above himself.”

Oud spends most of his free time at the rink, not only for his own hockey practice and games, but to help coach the younger players as well. Over the past few years, he and other Clearwater goalies, Erik Giesbrecht and Gord Elliot, have donated their time to coaching younger goalies.

Kjenstad said his teams are very active in the community, and Oud is one of those kids who puts his hand up first.

“Whether it’s to shovel a roof off, or shovel a driveway for a senior, or go out and help somebody move something heavy that they can’t…Piet’s always one of the kids that’s always at the forefront and there with a smile on his face and some enthusiasm to do something that most people aren’t too excited to be doing.”

Oud also helps with coaching soccer and has been a part of the program “Beyond the Hurt,” visiting the elementary school to give anti-bullying presentations.

Now that the Sportsplex has opened back up, Oud is looking forward to continuing the goalie training as the sport is a big passion of his.

“It’s really one of those sports where you have the opportunity every game to take people’s breath away,” he told the Times.

“The amount it means for each and every one of our teammates to win championships and to be prepared at the rink every time we practice, to try our best…it’s really neat to see such a close group of friends all trying to achieve the same goal.”

Between school, hockey practice and games and friendships and family, it seems Oud would be tough to find time for anything else — but it’s the game and the people that keep him going.

“You’d show up to a game and there’d be well over 100 people in the crowd,” he said. “You look around and you see the little guys, you see the Bantams watching, you see the PeeWees watching…they’re watching the games because they want to see the big kids play.

“So, then you want to give back.”

Oud added he enjoys hanging out with the younger groups as he likes to make them smile. These kids are in a small town and don’t have the same resources as those from a big city, and he wants to be able to be a role model and help them grow.

“I had Cody Gunn who taught me how to play goal and he was in high school teaching goalies,” said Oud.

“Now, I feel like it’s the right thing to do and it means a lot to me to be able to teach what I know about goaltending to these little kids and they can take that knowledge and hopefully one of them when they reach my age can pass it on to the next group of goalies.”

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