Niagara College sports management student, Nyland Hall, is not sure if he would like most to be a hockey coach, a scout, or NHL general manager, but he does know he wants to be close to the game.
Looking back at his days growing up near Moose Factory, Ont., Hall says that like many of the kids in his community his passion for the game was ignited by the hometown hero, NHL star Jonathan Cheechoo.
“He was the first one from our community to make it to the NHL, and we all looked up to him,” said the 19-year-old. He showed us that anything is possible for people living on the reserve.”
Hall’s parents got him playing for the Moosonee Snow Geese atom hockey team, and he also competed in the Little Native Hockey League where he won two tournaments. An avid hockey fan throughout his entire childhood, when it came time for him to select a career path, the choice was obvious.
“In grade 11, I started thinking about a career and a lot of my friends suggested sports management,” said Hall. “I thought about it and said, ‘I’m interested in sports so I guess I can get into the business side of it to still be a part of it.’”
Though he now lives in Barrie, ON, Hall says he still stays very connected to the Moose Cree First Nation territory he grew up on. He believes it is important for Indigenous people to be in touch with their communities and hopes that one day, like Jonathan Cheechoo, he can be an inspiration to the children in Moosonee, helping them to see that anything is possible.
“It would be pretty cool if down the road there was a kid from my community that wanted to get into sports management because they were inspired by me,” said Hall. “To have that effect on people would be a great feeling.”
Hall will graduate this year with an advanced diploma in sports management, and is currently interning at the Aboriginal Sports and Wellness Council of Ontario as a summer event coordinator which means he will play an active role working with the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
Though he never competed in the Games himself, he says he understands the positive impact an opportunity like this can have on the lives of athletes, coaches and the communities represented.
“It gives people a sense of pride to be involved with the Games,” said Hall. “When someone goes as far as to make it, everyone in the community thinks ‘Wow that’s one of our guys.’ It might help someone else believe that they can make it there too.”