BostonBruins.com – Zach Senyshyn arrived in Sault Ste. Marie three years ago to further his hockey career. But along the way he has done so much more than that.
Senyshyn fell in love with his adopted hometown and became engrained in the community, often joining his Soo Greyhounds teammates in volunteering at the local hospital and hospice center.
But the 19-year-old, who was drafted by the Bruins with the 15th overall pick last year, wanted to take things a step further.
After one of those visits to the local hospital, Senyshyn approached Soo Greyhounds Director of Public Relations and Hockey Administration, Gerry Liscumb Jr., about holding a charity event.
With baseball and softball being such a vital part of the summers in Sault Ste. Marie, Liscumb suggested a softball tournament.
Senyshyn wanted to make sure whatever he did benefitted ARCH Hospice, not only because of his previous volunteer work at the facility, but also because his grandmother was treated at a hospice center in Ottawa. The work of the staff there touched him deeply.
“The staff and volunteers give compassion and care to people at the end of their life…they run purely on donations and community support and I felt the amazing work they do there should not go unnoticed,” Senyshyn said by phone from Ottawa Tuesday afternoon.
“I felt like we were going to be able to do this and do a nice thing for the ARCH Hospice and kind of give back to them for everything they’ve done for everyone in Sault Ste. Marie.
“I was really excited to be given the opportunity to be able to give back.”
And so the Hitting for Hospice Softball Tournament was born.
Twenty-four teams (across men’s and co-ed divisions) participated in the inaugural double-elimination tournament this past weekend at Strathclair Park in Sault St. Marie.
The three-day event raised $10,000 for ARCH Hospice.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Senyshyn. “It was really nice to be back in Sault St. Marie and I can’t say enough about all the people there and how generous and how great it was for so many people to come in and participate.”
Senyshyn fielded a team – nicknamed the Bat Street Boys – that included a number of his Greyhounds teammates, as well as other players from around the OHL.
“We were not very good, we made a quick exit, lost our first two games and we were out,” Senyshyn admitted. “I might have to do some better scouting next year, but it was a lot of fun.”
Despite the lack of on-field success for his squad, Senyshyn is looking forward to continuing the tournament – and his charity work – as his hockey career progresses.
That career has a long way to go, but Senyshyn has already made his mark off the ice.
“Just being a part of Sault Ste. Marie and being forced in at a young age to such a big hockey town – they really adopted me as one of their own,” said Senyshyn.
“Sault Ste. Marie is definitely a home for me and to be able to give back to that –the team is such a big part of the community – I felt a real need to be able to give back as kind of a leader on the team and hopefully in the future a leader in the community.”