Niagara Catholic 28-8: The Power of Teamwork Student Leadership Conference a Success

Brad Park, one of Canada's hockey heroes from Team Canada 1972, poses with student leaders from Denis Morris Catholic High School during Niagara Catholic's 28-8: The Power of Teamwork Student Leadership Conference.

Brad Park, one of Canada’s hockey heroes from Team Canada 1972, poses with student leaders from Denis Morris Catholic High School during Niagara Catholic’s 28-8: The Power of Teamwork Student Leadership Conference.

More than 300 Niagara Catholic student leaders, including elementary and secondary students, participated in the Board’s annual Student Leadership Conference at the Holiday Inn Parkway Suites and Convention Centre November 29.

The focus of this year’s event was on the Board’s new 28-8: The Power of Teamwork leadership program for students and staff, created in partnership with Brock University’s Goodman School of Business and Team Canada 1972. Student leaders prepared in advance by watching videos from the 1972 Summit Series, which the 28-8 program is based upon. The program gets its name from the 28,800 seconds played in the eight Summit Series games; four in Canada, and four in the (now former) Soviet Union.

Dr. Barry Wright, Interim Dean of the Goodman School of Business began the session by asking students “Who are you now?” and challenged them to work to change who they are every day by thinking about three things they could do better or differently. He also encouraged students to view their classrooms as teams, and urged them to be the best team player they could possibly be.

During the event, students and staff hung on the words of three of Canada’s hockey heroes from the Summit Series, Brad Park, Pat Stapleton and Marcel Dionne. Park talked about the challenges they had to overcome, including changing their mindsets of seeing their new teammates as bitter NHL rivals so they could become a team.

“Every player in the National Hockey League was Canadian, except one,” Park said. “When you went to the organization, your total focus was to dislike everybody on that other team, that was it. Because if you found out that they were good guys, or you had more respect for them than you should, then you didn’t play them as hard or as tough.”

Dionne spoke about how it felt to play a very behind-the-scenes role in Team Canada ’72′s success, hitting the ice for practices only, never a game.

“To me, it was about watching, learning and to do the right thing,” Dionne told students.

Stapleton, who is keen to promote the importance of teamwork and perseverance, had high praise for those like Dionne, who watched from the wings.

“Players that weren’t playing started to raise their battle level in practice, and that helped us in the games,” he said.

Translation: Every team member has something to important to contribute. After all, not everyone can get the game-winning goal.

Stapleton encouraged students to develop their curiosity, and from there, their confidence will grow. He encouraged them to work on their team smarts, asking how they could be the best team player, and told them a simple mindset will take them far. Stapleton added that it’s important for students to be fearless and prepared to overcome any obstacle, noting those six skills will take students far in life. Dionne encouraged students to learn another language, and told girls, in particular, to recognize that although they are light years ahead of what other girls in the world experience, that they still live very much in a man’s world and to not be afraid to show how strong and competent they are.

A final message from the Team Canada players to students: Sometimes you will fail, and that failure should be used as a learning experience to build upon. Take the unimportant things and put them to the side, and focus on the important things in life – most importantly, what lies ahead.

After a short break, Dr. Wright led students on an activity that had them think about things they could do to effect change in their teams, with the answers ranging from inclusiveness and tolerance to daring themselves to go outside their comfort zones.

When the morning’s events were concluded, Park, Stapleton and Dionne stayed and chatted with students, happily posing for pictures and sharing advice and stories about their Summit Series escapades.

A second session will take place for students in the spring. Also in the spring, a third component of the 28-8 program will come on line, with the introduction of a series of history lessons for students in Grades 4-6, focusing on the time in which the Summit Series took place.

Check out The Standard’s and Cogeco’s coverage of The Power of Teamwork Student Leadership Conference, and watch a video from the event here. Photos from the event are available on the Board’s Facebook page.

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