Brenden Parker has already made a big impact on the Cloverdale Minor Hockey Association (CMHA).
The Cloverdale resident has been volunteering his time for several years as an assistant coach and last year he helped lead his U15 A1 Colts to a gold medal win on the Island in the provincial championships.
Now Parker has completed his development one coaching certification, a designation that allows him to be the head coach for high-level rep teams.
“Brenden has been active in our community for years organizing many fundraising events in support of charities he’s passionate about,” said Deanna Cox, president of CMHA, via email.
She said Parker’s certification is an “amazing” accomplishment and everyone involved with CMHA is very proud of him.
Parker, 27, travels in an electric wheelchair due to cerebral palsy.
“We are also thankful for the support B.C. Hockey has provided to make this certification accessible to Brenden,” Cox added.
Parker is also known for creating “Brenden’s Ride,” an annual fundraiser that raises money for different charities.
Craig Sherbaty, director of hockey operations for CMHA said Parker is an inspiration to all.
“Brenden has had a huge impact on Cloverdale hockey,” Sherbaty said. “He’s always been around the game and the game of hockey is well-rooted within his family. He’s been a student of the game for a very long time and he knows the game well.”
Those hockey roots go deep too, as Parker’s dad, Baron Parker, was an NHL linesman from 1993 to 2003.
Sherbaty said Parker was always hanging around the rink and he was always volunteering his time to help coach. He wanted to get more involved, so he began taking his coaching levels and now, for the last two years, he’s been an AC with the U15 A1 Colts.
“What Brenden brings to his hockey club is really a sense of fighting through adversity,” explained Sherbaty. “He’s very good at communicating in a simple way to the kids and keeping his messages direct in regards to improvements and things the players can do both on and off the ice to make themselves better hockey players.”
Sherbaty added that Parker’s limitations are also an inspiration to other CMHA players. He said Parker shows everyone by example that it doesn’t matter what type of barrier anyone faces, if you really want to achieve something, you can go after it and get it.
“We’re all very proud of Brenden for making those big strides,” he said. “And B.C. Hockey was a big help in getting his certification done. Because he’s limited and can’t physically go on the ice, they made some accommodations that allowed him to get certified.”
The entire certification process covers both a 16-hour, in-class portion followed by the completion of a big work booklet and then an on-ice practice session. Parker passed the in-class segment and then whipped together three on-ice practice plans, which U15 Colts head coach Bayne Ryshak ran, while Parker brought the kids out onto the ice and gave them tips and pointers between drills.
Sherbaty added that Parker has aspirations to become a head coach one day.
“Cloverdale minor is very proud of the fact that we were able to help Brendan with this certification process,” he said. “His head coach Bayne Ryshak has also been instrumental through this process, including him in as much as they can with the team.”
Ryshak said “Brendo,” as the players call him, has a positive impact on the kids each and every day.
“He’s such an inspiration to everybody that’s been lucky enough to be associated with him, whether it be coaches, players, or parents,” said Ryshak. “He always shows up to the rink with a smile on his face.”
Ryshak said Parker is always ready to pass his deep knowledge of the game onto the kids.
“Brendo inspires us.”
Ryshak noted Parker doesn’t come on the bench, but is right there before and after games and at intermission to give feedback to the kids.
Ryshak said last year Parker inspired the kids on their gold-medal run to keep fighting and playing as hard as they could and to never give up.
“He was able to really motivate the kids. They wanted to play their best for him and I don’t think they wanted to let coach Brenden down.”
Ryshak said he wasn’t surprised when Parker passed his development one coaching certification class.
“It’s a passion for him. He loves it. It just goes to show you that if you work really hard at something, you can achieve it.”
Ryshak said the entire association is happy for Parker and excited to see what the future has in store for him. He said Parker would be an asset to any team.
“We’re very honoured and were very lucky to have Brendo in our association and on our coaching staff and we’re all very lucky to call him a friend. He keeps us grounded and he’s just a great person to be around.”
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