Congratulations to Alvin Kotchilea fro Whati for signing with the Rogue Valley Royal in Medford, Oregon Team.
We took some time with mom Loreen and Alvin to talk about what it feels like playing for a team down South, what the expectations are and how training in the Northwest Territories made it happen.
Alvin was selected to play forward for the Rogue Valley Royal in Medford, Oregon, and I couldn't be happier for him. The fact that he was given this opportunity, especially as a young Indigenous athlete, thrilled me as a mother. We are extremely pleased to have our own people, especially our Indigenous youths from the north, to represent us since we are not fairly represented as a First Nation people in competitive sport.
What was it like to play Hockey in the Northwest Territories for you and Alvin?
When Alvin turned 4 years old, I knew he had to play hockey for the structure and routine. I had him while I was a young teen and told myself, that I would ensure he had more opportunity than I had living in a isolated community of WhaTi. Being a part of a team and being proud of something meant something to us. I can still picture driving from Behchoko to attend morning practices and games. When we relocated to Yellowknife, this continued. It was enjoyable to watch my son play hockey in Yellowknife. The season's high point was always the tournaments in Hay River and in Alberta.
What suggestion do you have for all Hockey moms in the Territories?
Keep doing what you're doing, is my advise to hockey mothers. Many of our children either continue playing hockey at a high level or begin pursuing careers at a young age. Really, there is no right or wrong way for our adolescents to finish their minor hockey careers. Many young individuals who grew to enjoy the sport had a foundation and skill as a young person in their education, careers, and life. Being a hockey mom is a blessing itself.
What was the procedure to get Alvin to go to the United States?
In 2016, Alvin was moved to Whitecourt Minor Hockey in Alberta. We traveled every weekend to games and provincials while competing in Alberta. He played hockey with some incredibly talented players along the way; many of them went on to play in the Junior divisions, and one was even recently selected by the NHL. Through all of this, he built a lot of connections and was contacted personally about playing for the Rogue Valley Royals in the United States. About 7 Canadian Indigenous youths were selected for this team and two of them are his best friends.
Here is what Alvin had to say to our quesitons
When did you start playing Hockey?
I started playing hockey when I was 4 years old.
Where did you start playing Hockey?
in Yellowknife with the Minor Hockey Assocation. My mom told me at first I couldn't skate and it took several practices for me to stand on my skate.
What was it like to play Hockey where you started?
It was good I played with all my friends, school kids and even some kids from Behchoko that I became really good friends with. I knew everyone on my team so it felt good.
What was your biggest achievement as a Hockey athlete in the Northwest Territories in minor hockey?
I think it was during our provincials, we were winning but at the end it was a tie with the other team. With 16 seconds left of the game I had made a goal and our team won. It was printed on News North. The bleachers were loud when we won. I felt very good about this win.
What are you looking forward too going to the United States?
I am really looking forward of this experience and opportunity. I had played with two other players in my previous league who were also drafted. So we all planning to drive down to the states together. I am really looking forward to this experience and opportunity. I am excited and nervous.
Once again, congratulations Alvin and Loreen and we know that good things will happen. Thank you very much for sharing your insights and love for the sport.