There is a school of sad kids now that all of the Steinbach Pistons players have officially headed home for the summer and mostly because of one player; Pistons defenseman Eddie Eades.
Eades was acknowledged earlier this month for being the MJHL’s Manitoba Peak Performer of the Month for March because of his involvement in the community. And the 20 year-old defenseman has done more than his share over this past season.
He arrived in Steinbach this past August from East Grand Forks, Minnesota knowing very little about the Pistons or the community of Steinbach. His 6’ 5” stature made him hard to miss, helping him get a roster spot on a Pistons team that was seeking a veteran presence on the backend.
He was quickly made aware that things were going to be a little different in Steinbach and players who weren’t working or attending school had to volunteer a minimum of 3hrs a week.
“I heard we had to do a lot of volunteering, and I wasn’t sure how much I would really enjoy it,” said Eades, who was held accountable on his hours monthly by the organization. “But after thinking about it, I realized it would be a good use of my time since I didn’t have a job. “
The team helped place the d-man at one of the local elementary schools to kick off the year. Originally Eades, along with his teammate Joe Carney at the time, did something they were very comfortable with and that was helping the students skate. The players helped the students tie their skates and then assisted with teaching them how to skate.
“It was a lot of fun, the kids loved it,” Eades said. “They were always tough to get off the ice, they loved it a lot.”
His time with the students eventually morphed into reading, doing math problems and helping with arts and crafts in the classroom. He also joined the students when they attended the Rest Haven Nursing Home as a part of the school’s Grand Partners program.
This is a program where the students are teamed up with an elderly person, spending time with them on a consistent basis; talking, reading and playing games with their grand partner. Eades jumped right in not showing any hesitation.
His many hours volunteering turned into a very memorable experience for Eades when 50 kids or so, arrived at a Pistons morning skate during the playoffs with Eddie Eades posters. And that wasn’t all; they even chanted ‘Eddie – Eddie’.
“There aren’t many times where people are chanting your name, let alone at a morning skate,” Eades said with a big smile. “At that time I wasn’t in the line-up because of injury, and I made sure I was out there for morning skate because I knew they were coming, but I wasn’t expecting the signs and the chants.”
While the Pistons were in the midst of their MJHL Championship Series with the Portage Terriers, the students went out of their way to make Eades cards wishing him and the team all the best as they continued to battle from a series deficit. And then when the season came to a close, the school did a presentation in the gym for Eades, saying goodbye with another bag full of cards and some cake.
“I just want to say thank-you to the school for allowing me in their classrooms,” commented Eades about how this experience has helped him grow as a person. “And since I don’t know what I want to do career-wise, after all of this experience it may be something I want to look into in the future.”
His required three hours of volunteer became just the tip of the iceberg, as Eades and many other Pistons player also assisted at minor hockey practices, school floor hockey events and the local food bank to name a few.
Eades was one of three Pistons players who received the MJHL Manitoba Peak Performer of the Month Award for their community service. The Pistons organization is proud to see the award getting presented to a Pistons player three out of the six times it’s given out. Connor Martin and Roman Bengert also were recognized earlier in the season.