The Experience of a Lifetime
It was the moment the Atom AA Don Mills Mustangs had worked all of Movember for. Skates were tied and equipment adjusted as Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock entered the change room to give the Mustangs a pre-practice pep talk. As “Babs” spoke to the Atom team about the importance of teamwork and dedication, the Mustangs were privy to another jaw-dropping moment as young Maple Leafs phenom and GTHL grad Mitch Marner entered the room to say hello.
“The experience truly exceeded any expectations we may have had,” said Mustangs Head Coach Sean Kinley. “The practice run by Mike Babcock and the Leafs coaching staff created memories for a lifetime, for both the players and their families.”
Throughout his time with the team, Babcock made sure to enforce lessons that players can carry with them both on and off the ice.
“I learned from Coach Babcock how to be a good teammate,” explained Mustangs defenceman Griffin Bobee. “And as a defenseman, he taught me how to properly close the gap on a one on one.”
The hour-long practice at the MasterCard Centre also included the chance to take in a Leafs practice. The entire experience was the result of lots of hard work by the Mustangs who helped raise over $3,000 for the Get Ahead of the Game program by selling over 650 pairs of Babsocks.
“The entire contest allowed the players to learn a lot more about something they initially didn’t know much about [mental health],” said Kinley. “It helped educate them about a very important subject.”
At the conclusion of the campaign, GTHL teams had raised over $16,000 for mental health programming. A donation by Babsocks bumped up the grand total to $50,000.
In addition to raising money for a great cause, Kinley said the contest aligned perfectly with their team values.
“On the Mustangs, we always encourage and promote effort. It took effort to win the Babsocks contest. It takes effort to succeed in hockey and in sport. And, overall, it takes effort to be successful in life.”
Click here to see photos from the Mustangs practice with Babcock.