Photo by Andee Boiman
During a Nov. 16 ceremony, Rick Heagarty (left) and Steven Thomas were honored as the Predators' youth volunteer and youth player, respectively, for November.
During a ceremony held prior to the Nashville Predators November 16 home game against the Minnesota Wild, the Predators organization announced that Steven Thomas and Rick Heagarty had been named Youth Hockey Player of the Month and Youth Hockey Volunteer of the Month, respectively, for November. Thomas and Heagarty were presented with plaques recognizing their efforts. The two were nominated and selected as part of a Predators youth community initiative 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.
Thomas, November Player of the Month, is 12 and plays goalie for the Junkyard Dogs. His team plays at the Youth Inc. LaVergne inline rink. When Thomas was younger, he participated in football until one day he saw some kids playing inline hockey. Trading in his football cleats for inline skates, Thomas decided to try the sport out and he's been hooked ever since.
Not only is the Murfreesboro resident a skilled goalie and an "A" student who is consistently on the honor roll, he is also an avid volunteer. Thomas takes time out from his studies and inline team to help out Challenged Athletes Playing Equally (C.A.P.E), a nonprofit organization that provides sports opportunities (including hockey) and activities for special needs children and adults. He is always ready to lend a hand in any of the sports the kids play, cheering them on, high-fiving, carrying equipment or pushing a wheelchair. His good attitude and acceptance is inspiring, and for these reasons the Nashville Predators have recognized him as the November Youth Hockey Player of the Month.
The Nashville Predators are also proud to have named Rick Heagarty as the November Youth Hockey Volunteer of the Month. Heagarty is the head coach of the Station Camp Bison Hockey Team. Station Camp High School is part of the Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey (GNASH) league which plays at Centennial Sportsplex.
Heagarty, a Chicago native, played hockey for years but never thought too much about becoming a coach. One day, while working in a rink in Chicago, the coach of one of the teams got sick and couldn't make it to the game. Heagarty filled in for the coach and his experience behind the bench has taken off since then. He has coached at all levels from Mites through college.
Heagarty has sacrificed much of his own family time volunteering and working with the high school boys' weekly practice and conditioning. He has taught the boys so much about being a team and being dedicated. He has not only helped the boys become better hockey players, but better adolescents as well. Most of the players that he coaches look up to Heagarty as a role model.
Heagarty was nominated by Beth Wigner, who is a parent of one of the players Heagarty coaches. Wigner summed up Heagarty's efforts: "He is dedicating so much time to our team and is appreciated so much by our players and parents." For these contributions, the Nashville Predators have recognized Heagarty as the November Youth Hockey Volunteer of the Month.
For more information on the Predators hockey recognition program, or to nominate a player, volunteer or team making a difference in a Nashville area youth hockey community, visit the Local Hockey Recognition Page in the Play Hockey section.