From left: Brody Jobin, Evan Michaud, Matthew Hawley and Pickering Panthers Coach Dave Dininio. Photo credit: Heather Hawley.

By Mark Campbell

Last month we reported on the opening of the outdoor sports pad at the Port Union Community Centre.  It appears area residents are taking notice. Over the winter holidays, adults and kids alike could be seen playing pickup games on the pad.

Matthew Hawley, a Grade 6 student at Charlottetown Junior Public School, is one such person. On evenings and weekends, Hawley is often found playing right-wing for the Pickering Panthers hockey club, but when he’s not on the ice he’s organizing friendly games of ball hockey for his team. One recent event took place over the break with about a dozen kids and parents sharing the space.

The sports pad also offers a safe option for kids to play. “I don’t have to play on the street anymore,” said Hawley. “I just go straight there.” With traffic density increasing year over year, the sports pad provides parents such as Hawley’s mother, Heather, with some some peace of mind.

It also gives kids an alternative outdoor activity to keep moving during a winter which, to this point in mid-January, has been lacking any significant snowfall, save for a recent storm that was followed by an extreme cold spell. Hawley, who is also an avid snowboarder and a member of his school’s ski team, noted that the lack of snow is really cutting into his tobogganing time.

Declan Morey, a Grade 3 student also at Charlottetown, has been enjoying the sports pad, too. A self-professed “hockey fanatic,” he enjoys ice hockey, ball hockey and foot hockey. “I like doing my own thing. Shooting pucks. It’s helping me,” he replied when asked what he enjoys most about the sports pad. Morey currently plays select hockey for the West Hill Golden Hawks.

“I’m sick of the Leafs,” said Morey, whose favourite hockey teams are the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights, although he did say he would go to the sports pad if a Maple Leafs player showed up to run a clinic, “especially if it was John Tavares.”

Kids are taking note, so expect to see the pad in use when the weather is favourable. As for what he plans to do there over the summer, Hawley exclaimed, “I’ll play soccer!”  Grab your stick or a ball and drop by.  You never know who you might meet there.