It's safe to say the first ever Mental Health Classic 3v3 hockey tournament in Kindersley this past weekend was a success. 

On Monday morning we caught up with exhausted organizer DJay McGrath who frankly had a dream come true running his very own tournament in his hometown of Kindersley. He couldn't thank his weekend volunteers enough for all of their help and support, and he also wanted to make sure parents knew how important the weekend was to him.

"Overall it was more than I expected from my workers right from my team. They came in and the biggest thing I kind of told them was to make sure they're interacting with the kids and parents and they did just that. They made my life easy." said McGrath as respectful players and parents on the other-side of things also helped things move along nicely.

"The community got together and made it a pretty special weekend for these kids."


If you have been following along with the mental health in hockey advocate, it has been a long and winding road for the former hockey player who turned to drugs, but McGrath is now well on the path back to wellness and is doing his best to spread the word of mental health.

"When I was going through my addictions I would just think how cool it would be to do something like this. A year later I got to do my first one, and it's the start of many." said McGrath.

The young players signed up for hockey, but also something more. The Mental Health Classic saw both sides of the coin go super successful.

"Jessica Gazzola, she was out in Pittsburgh and we did it via Zoom. It would have been better to be there in person, but the girls learned stuff coming from an ex-Division I athlete. I think the girls opened up their eyes and ears a bit more because that is where they want to go."

Each mental health talk had a specific focus for the kids listening. It got emotional at times, especially for the boys speaker in former Jr. Klippers standout defenseman Giovanni Flamminio who was speaking for the first time. The kids probably enjoyed hearing from a former Klipper, but the message perhaps stood out even more with local player currently on the team Logan Linklater.

"Hometown hero Logan Linklater, that was the first time sharing his story and the kids absolutely loved it. Logan was talking about his story and talking about how hockey should be fun at their age."

The main message was how it's ok to reach out to people and share your situation. Seeing the former and current high-level hockey players on stage sharing their story was truly an inspiration for the players and parents alike.

"Parents came up to me after thanking us." said McGrath, "I think it was an overall great weekend with the mental-health speaking. The kids learned a lot this weekend."

Deej Aug 2023McGrath with one of the camp participants

As for the hockey, the fun atmosphere on the ice really let the talent blossom and that was just the icing on the cake for McGrath.

"I was amazed. There was good talent, it was competitive out there." started McGrath, "Before the tournament started I went into each teams room and said it doesn't matter who wins or loses, it's about you guys being kids for the weekend and putting a smile on your faces."

The games ran to the beat of music, lacrosse style as McGrath put it, and featured plenty of ice for creativity with the stick.

"I think I got the boys and girls a little more motivation under their belt too."

In the future McGrath sees the potential for a week-long camp prior to the weekend tournament that players signed up for this year. With all of the positive reviews from the parents and players it seems like a no-brainer decision, but McGrath will have to wait a bit before making any summer plans with another busy season of speaking engagements coming up.

"Starting my hockey season. Starting to get busy which is awesome." 

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