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Pilot Mound's McConnell leading by example
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Submitted by CSSHL Media

Carson McConnell likes to pay it back.

He volunteers 15 to 20 hours a week in Pilot Mound, Man., depending on his schedule.

McConnell, 17, is involved with his school, Pilot Mound Collegiate Institute (PCMI), doing the TV student announcements, is at the rink, referees, plays baseball as well as badminton and track and field among other activities. He also works on the PCMI sports website and takes care of the social media as well as for his Canadian Sport School Hockey League team, the Pilot Mound Hockey Academy.

He only has a few classes which gives him time in a schedule he tries to follow. 

“I have got rundown, but I have been learning how to handle it,” said McConnell, who in 2016 was the recipient of the Wellness of the Whole (WOW): Student Recognition Award presented by the Physical and Health Educators of Manitoba.

His favourite activity is his mentorship program with Hockey Manitoba working with up and coming referees.  

“I enjoy it a lot and just being on the ice and helping them through situations,” he said. “It's probably one of the things I love the most.” 

Giving back was instilled by his parents Rick and Marcie, who are actively involved at the swimming pool, with minor hockey and baseball. Rick is an assistant coach on the Buffaloes.

“Having them always around I just followed along. I just kind of helped out where I could,” said McConnell. “As I've got older I have had bigger roles in participation. It's been exciting.”

McConnell’s principal at PMCI, Sheldon Gardiner, wrote a letter in support of him for the CSSHL Humanitarian of the Year Award. Gardiner said that McConnell, an honour roll student, plays an important role in the school and goes “above and beyond” each day. He is a role model to all students.

McConnell is a two-time CSSHL Midget Varsity all-academic team honouree. In 2017 he was named the WHL Scholastic Player of the Year in the Midget Varsity Division. He credits his educational success to asking for extra help. Gardiner said his focus in class is impressive.

When asked about time for himself, McConnell says he has enough.

“I don’t like to be just sitting around doing anything, doing nothing,” said McConnell, who is well spoken. “I find that really boring.”

McConnell, in his second and final season in the CSSHL, believes his extra curricular activities help him on the ice. It makes him feel happier helping.

McConnell’s coach Rod Collins said he is a special kid that he will miss.

“We’re pretty proud of him. He is going to be a good graduate of our program this year.

“He sets an example for other kids that will come to the program,” continued Collins. “Kids look up to him. His standard of play and his professionalism off the ice.”

With the Buffaloes, he leads by example in workouts and practices.

McConnell’s future includes trying to earn a roster spot on the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He was drafted by the Flyers in 2016 and hopes to spend three seasons there and move onto college. Once in college, McConnell plans to study business.

Along with being inspired by his parents, McConnell feels it's important to give back to his community because there are people in Pilot Mound that have done things for him. 

“I think it's important for kids to realize the importance we have as older kids to younger kids, the way they look up to you,” he said. “I’m active in minor hockey. I had older kids that did that with me. I think it's just awesome because you see the smile on kids’ faces makes you want to keep doing it.”