Leaders4Life is a summer leadership camp where young, high-level hockey prospects are encouraged to build character and leadership skills. While most hockey players are at summer camps running drills and listening to coaches, these lucky participants get the chance to run team-building exercises and listen to speakers such as Bruins legend Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr, the camp’s founder and director.
Forty-eight hockey players from places as nearby as Somerville, MA and as far away as British Columbia, Canada, and ranging in age from 8-18, visited the Garden and had the opportunity to park in the players lot in front of the building. They made their way through the player’s entrance and upstairs for a tour of the Boston Bruins locker room under the guidance of Darren Orr (son of Bobby) and former Boston University hockey player Dale Dunbar.
As an added bonus, the group had the chance to sit in the stalls of current Bruins’ such as Patrice Bergeron
, Phil Kessel, and Zdeno Chara
“Does Chara even fit in here?” exclaimed one young player.
Another player started acting and talking like it was a game night, saying, “Let’s go boys! Big game tonight boys!” not missing a chance to live his dream, even if it wasn’t real…yet!
The group also relaxed in the players lounge, checked out the whirlpool, and toured the weightlifting and strength training facilities.
Cameras and cell phones were out as the kids snapped photos and called their parents to tell them about the once in a lifetime experience.
Following the tour of the locker room the group moved down the hall into the Will McDonough press room where WEEI’s John Dennis of the “Dennis and Callahan Morning Show gave the kids a speech offering advice on how to be a better player, teammate, and person as their careers progress and reminding them that the eyes of the press are on them.
“Just remember, the way you are seen at games, in the locker room, in the community, and through the camera lens is the way most people are going to remember you,” said Dennis. Nobody wants to see that jerk athlete slamming his or her locker or yelling at a reporter, no matter how tough the question.
"Do yourself, and your teammates a favor, always keep a level head and think before you act.
That is the mark of a true leader,” he said.
Before the kids left for the day they were able to take a tour of the New England Sports Museum on the premium level of the TD Banknorth Garden. The camp was then broken into a handful of smaller groups with area college hockey players acting as chaperones and mentors.
Chad Morin, a sophomore at Harvard University, was happy to be a mentor for the kids in the camp.
“This camp is great for these young players”, said Morin, who will be entering his 2nd season as a defenseman for the Crimson. “All the advice that Mr. Orr, Darren and Dale teach is stuff that you forget about when you are focusing on your game. They touch on issues that in my youth were important, but not as recognized, such as dealing with the media, saying no to drugs and alcohol, and the proper way to treat people.
"I didn’t have this growing up, and it really is a resource for these boys as they move onto college and the pros.
My experience was to get thrown into to the fire and learn on the fly most of the time, so having this as a resource at such a young age is great for them,” he said.
While walking through the halls of The Sports Museum the kids experienced the full spectrum of New England sports history from hockey to lacrosse to boxing, and back on the ice with figure skating.
The group also spent plenty of time posing for pictures in front of a statue of the camp’s founder and director, Robert Gorden Orr, flying through the air after scoring the deciding goal in the Stanley Cup finals in 1970.
A game winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals – now that’s leadership at its best!