The Power of Teamwork
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When Andrew Hore (Marketing ’99) proudly dropped off Jacob, his five-year old son, at NAIT’s hockey school for the first time, it brought a flood of memories.
He remembered his dad lining up at NAIT to enrol him in his first year. He was ten years old and it was the Gretzky-era of hockey in Edmonton. It was also not long after the ‘perfect season’ of the 1984-85 Ooks men’s hockey team. Undefeated that year, they set several provincial and national intercollegiate records that still stand today.
A decade later Andrew was in his first year at NAIT, so he decided to try out for the Ooks, earning himself a position as forward for the next three seasons.
It was those years on the team that led to the creation of the Ooks Hockey Alumni Association (OHAA). Over a cup of coffee, Andrew and fellow hockey alumnus Gary Leskow (Accounting '69) talked about their time at NAIT. With the nostalgia of playing hockey with the Ooks, Andrew called up fellow teammate, David Quaschnick (Instrumentation Eng. '99), and they formed a plan to get the guys together.
It all started as a skate in the NAIT “barn” with some members of the old team, and then eventually took shape into something bigger. With more alumni joining the association, paying yearly membership fees, Andrew quickly realized that there was potential to give back to the program.
“We decided to take the membership money and give it back to the hockey team for scholarships to help student athletes,” says Andrew. “We started with a $500 donation that was given to one student player.”
Over the years, the OHAA has grown to include nearly 50 members. Many volunteer their time through a variety of fundraisers to increase their support for Ook’s hockey athletes. In 2010, the OHAA committed $200,000 over 5 years back to NAIT. It was their largest contribution to the institute, supporting more than 20 annual scholarships and NAIT’s Summer Hockey Camps, giving inner-city kids the same opportunity as Andrew had.
Curtis Chmilar (Computer Systems Technology ‘02), current president of the OHAA, also has great memories, particularly the camaraderie of playing on a team and working towards a common goal. He appreciates the legacy that Andrew and the OHAA has created for the next generation of student athletes.
So, when NAIT recently celebrated 50 years of Ooks hockey, members of the OHAA were inspired to renew their support, committing an additional $210,000 toward scholarships.
“It was amazing just to be part of that environment, share experiences I had with those individuals and celebrate everything that we’ve achieved,” says Curtis about the gala. “When you think about it, where we’ve come from and where we are going, I’m really proud to be a part of it.”