St. Stephen – The St. Stephen Aces have welcomed another member.
Taking on Charlotte County teachers in the Aces vs. Teachers Rematch Monday at the Garcelon Civic Center, Milltown Elementary student Landon Hickey was presented with a unique opportunity: help coach the Aces.
Hickey stepped into the guest coaching role along with goalies Jack Grant and Zachary LeBlanc. He was offered the gig by soon to be 19-year-old defenceman Thomas Leggett.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, two members of the Aces visit Milltown Elementary School to lend a helping hand with the breakfast program, and spend time with students.
Leggett, who’s from Namur, Que, said when he and Hickey met, they became friends right away.
“I was assigned to him one day to play cards with him, and we got along really well, so every time I went back (to MES), I kept playing cards with Landon, and now we’re best friends,” Leggett said with a smile.
“I play cards with Landon, play Uno and stuff, try to encourage him to do a little better in school, and help him out with school work once in a while. (Hickey) just started French, and I’m bilingual, so I’ve started helping him in French.”
Following the game, Hickey and Leggett chatted, and posed for a picture on the Aces bench.
Hickey said he felt “good” when Leggett first invited him to coach.
The best thing about the gig?
“Hanging out with the players,” Hickey replied, and said he enjoyed “trying to make it so the players would all know where they’re supposed to be.”
Heather Bell-Williams, principal of MES, said since the players have started volunteering at the school from the beginning of their season, “it’s been exciting to see the relationships develop throughout the year.”
Bell-Williams said Leggett approached her with the idea for Hickey to join the bench.
“Watching that happen – when Tom sent me the text to tell me that everything was set, I got teary. There is no doubt about it, he exemplified that he really understood what it meant to these kids to have this kind of relationship with the players.
“It speaks to his character, and his understanding of leadership, and the importance of the players as role models in our community.”
Bell-Williams said she wished to thank the Aces, and their partnership with Arauco, noting their support of the breakfast program made it possible for the team members to volunteer.
With the Aces season winding to a close, the players are due to return home after their final home game on March 10, but Leggett said he plans to keep in contact with Hickey.
“I’m going to email back and forth with Landon once I go home for the rest for the school year, as pen pals.”