Not even his death has stopped Josh Olynyk from creating a little Ice Magic for Owen Sound's youngest hockey players.
Josh was a former Owen Sound Minor Hockey Group player. In 2009 he succumbed to cancer and memorial donations in his name were used to start a new program for players aged four to six. It was named the "Ice Magic
" program after a story Josh wrote in Grade 1 about a child going to play hockey.
Josh was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2001. He took time off from hockey in his bantam year and recovered from the disease in time to play midget house league. In March 2009 he was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma and died in July of 2009 at age 24.
The family decided to ask for donations to the minor hockey group in its memorial services. "All of our kids were very involved in minor hockey and one of the passions in Josh's life was hockey
", said his mom Lucia. "We were trying to think of something where he could have a legacy and it was about paying forward too. Hockey was good to him and it was good to us. We all got a lot of support from friends that were made through hockey over the years.
OSMHG first-vice president Grant Oldrieve (who coached Josh in minor hockey) suggested to the family that the money raised through the donations be used for the initiation program, which teaches the youngest children how to play hockey. This Ice Magic program will provide extra ice every other week. The goal is simple to make sure everyone has a smile on his or her face when they get off the ice.
2010 was the first year for this program and Olynyk's brother Craig Jr. and his sister Lauren both participated.
On February 21, 2011
(Family Day), the 1st annual 4 on 4 road hockey tournament was held with all proceeds going towards funding the Olynyk program. 208 children participated as well as family and friends of the Olynyk family.
The name of the tournament; Sick Shot,
came from Josh's last words before he died. His father, Craig, has also had that phrase tattooed onto one of his arms in honour of his son. "He repeated it three times very specifically and we didn't know what it meant"
, said Lucia. "All we can figure is that he was thinking about hockey. And you know how kids say sick instead of sweet (or good). Josh, as a little kid anyway, had a reputation of having a sick shot.
The Sick Shot tournament will be an annual event taking place on Family day.
** With content from the Owen Sound Sun Times