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S. Brock Seaward wins Brian Wakelin award

S. Brock Seaward’s work as President of Port aux Basques Minor Hockey has earned him the Brian Wakelin Executive of the Year award from Hockey NL. – File photo

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — The Brian Wakelin Executive of the Year Award celebrates the significant contributions individuals in an executive position have on hockey in Newfoundland and Labrador, and this year the recipient is Brock Seaward, President of Port Aux Basques Minor Hockey (PABMH).

Seaward has been involved with the organization since he was a child.

“I was born and raised in Port Aux Basques, and I joined Port Aux Basques Minor Hockey when I four or five years old, at the old Bruce II arena, and went up through the divisions, playing hockey with all of my friends, until about 1996-97. I didn’t complete the full minor hockey system. I quit playing hockey and picked up officiating hockey more seriously. I was still at the rink, but I wasn’t actually playing hockey. I was refereeing and doing those sorts of things.”

Seaward said he officiated into his early adult years and had a lot of memorable experiences during that tenure.

“I did a fair bit of traveling for the officiating, doing the Canada Winter Games trial runs that were in Corner Brook and some of the Canada Winter Games when they were here. Then after that I did a bit of senior hockey before work got in the way and I had to take a step back for a bit.”

A few years after his son was enrolled in minor hockey, Seaward was asked to help out.

“I did at the team level with my son’s hockey team for a season. The next year I was asked if I would like to help fill out an executive position, which I did. I accepted and I had to go through the nominations and all that stuff. It was three or so years ago, the pre-COVID year, and second vice-president was the position I got. I held that position for two seasons. Because of COVID we didn’t have to have another vote.”

When former president Krystal Blackler, moved out of town, Seaward was persuaded to step into that role.

“I was encouraged by people within the organization to consider throwing my hat in the ring and I did. Last year about this time I was successful. I do enjoy the work, being the president, and I got an award which was unexpected.”

For Seaward, things were a bit different when he became president because of the changes and restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.

“I don’t really know what it’s like to be president during a regular season, so I can only judge it from what I know. Obviously there were challenges, just as there are challenges everywhere when it comes to COVID. It seemed like the challenges that most people didn’t like, as opposed to previous seasons, is that parents weren’t allowed into the building at all to watch hockey practice, watch their kids play hockey, except for the small kids who were allowed one parent each. For the rest of the kids, from ages nine and up, they were in the stadium and mom and dad couldn’t go in to watch their kids progress through the season.”

Just when things started to look up, it looked like PABMH would be heading to the provincials, and they were allowed to have games, then everything went upside down again.

“Things got bad, and it all got turned off again. Provincial tournaments were cancelled, then a few weeks later it all came back again. Logistically it was challenging. One minute you’re planning tournaments, then it was off again and on again. It was challenging.”

Seaward said when he first heard he won the award, he didn’t realize what it was for.

“I got a letter in the mail from HNL (Hockey NL). I opened it up and read down through it and it was saying I had an award, but it wasn’t registering it was an individual award for me. I assumed it was all of our organization, not the executive of the year award. I read it again then I went online through the Hockey NL website, looked up the Brian Wakelin award to see what it entailed.”

Seaward said he found out later that he had been nominated by another member on the executive, which means a lot.

“I guess they thought I ticked the boxes or was well suited to match up for the award, met all the criteria. I’ve never won an award like this in my life, and I certainly don’t do this to win awards. It was a surprise.”

Seaward said he sat down with his family, including his two kids who are both in hockey themselves, to speak to them about continuing as president before making any decisions.

“The president role does take up a lot of time. There is quite a big commitment. I do enjoy the work so I sat with my family after the season was over and I said, ‘I like the work and I like doing it, do I have everybody’s blessing if I wanted to’, because somebody was soon going to ask if I was going to do it again, if I was going to re-offer myself, and so I wanted to be able to answer them. My wife told me she felt I had a very successful season, and I did, from what she could gauge, a good job. We never heard any complaints, so I am going to offer myself again to be president.”

Seaward said it is a role he is honoured to have the opportunity to do.

“I’m proud to be the president of Port Aux Basques Minor Hockey and to continue with the work people before me have put in. Basically, I just want to help carry the torch in the right manner until it’s time to pass it over to someone else.”

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