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January youth player and volunteer named

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

During a ceremony held prior to the Nashville Predators' January 10 home game against the New York Islanders, the Predators organization announced that Matt Wade and Suzanne Berens had been named Youth Hockey Player of the Month and Youth Hockey Volunteer of the Month, respectively, for January.  Predators forward Scott Nichol was on hand to present Wade and Berens with a plaque recognizing their efforts.  The two were nominated and selected as part of a new program created by the Predators that will regularly recognize a player and volunteer in the Nashville area who demonstrate character skills that make youth hockey a better experience for all involved.

Wade, the January Player of the Month, is 17 and plays the position of goaltender for Ravenwood High School. Ravenwood is part of the Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey League that plays at Southern Ice Arena in Franklin, Tenn. Wade was "born to be a goalie," according to his family. He began playing roller hockey at age 8 in the Mt. Juliet area and has always been a netminder. Wade switched over to ice hockey three years ago, when he joined the Ravenwood High School team. 

Wade is a respected player by all, including teammates and their parents. At practices and games, he is very focused on the ice, and his interactions with teammates illustrate how much he is respected and relied upon as goaltender. Wade provides a positive role model for his peers by attending religious services, excelling in school work and participating in volunteer services. As a unit, the Ravenwood High School hockey team donates its time to St. Luke's in Nashville for deliveries of food to seniors. Wade also helps out by picking up teammates for 5:15 a.m. practices during the week. According to Wade's coaches, "For a goaltender, he leads by example on the ice. Although he is a junior, you would think he is a senior by his leadership presence on the ice."

Wade was nominated by family friend Connie Hovis. Wade's love for hockey and his determination to be a great person has allowed him to be a leader on his team and amongst his peers. For this, the Nashville Predators have recognized him as the January Youth Hockey Player of the Month. 

The Nashville Predators are also proud to have named Suzanne Berens as the January Youth Hockey Volunteer of the Month. Berens is the equipment manager for the Nashville Youth Hockey League (NYHL), which plays at the Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville. Berens, affectionately called the "Equipment Lady," is viewed by many as "the most unsung hero the NYHL has." Three years ago, Berens became the equipment manager for the NYHL, after years of volunteering on the NYHL board of directors.

Berens demonstrates a positive attitude and is very respectful toward the youth hockey families. She is there to help out new players and their families as they become oriented to hockey. For example, when new parents join the NYHL, she takes the extra effort to explain how the hockey equipment should fit and provides parents with suggestions on what to look for in equipment problems. Additionally, she includes tips on how to tell when a player outgrows his or her equipment.  In the beginning of the season, when all teams are trying to get their jerseys, socks, bags and other items, Berens is there to help them find what they need. She also manages the NYHL's hockey equipment rental program, which allows players in the NYHL to have a complete set of hockey gear throughout the season without worrying about outgrowing their equipment.

Berens got involved with hockey when she and her son attended a Nashville Knights game 12 years ago. Immediately, her son wanted to play, and she became a volunteer hockey mom.  Berens looks at her job as a PR position. She loves being around the rink and more importantly the kids.

Berens was nominated by NYHL coach Vinson Dill and friend John DeVinney. As a result of her passion and love for hockey, Berens spends a majority of her time assisting the hockey families that she is so fond of in order to better the game of hockey.  Because of these efforts, the Nashville Predators have recognized her as the January Youth Hockey Volunteer of the Month

For more information on the local hockey recognition program, or to nominate someone who is making a difference in a Nashville area youth hockey community, visit the Local Hockey Recognition Page.


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