Myles Mattila and the Cariboo Cougars will be playing on a national stage
during the upcoming TELUS Cup, and Mattila will be using that opportunity
to support mental health initiatives and spread the message of hope.
A few years ago Mattila, who has been passionate about hockey for as long
as the 18-year-old can remember, noticed a dramatic change in a close
friend and teammate. After initially being told everything was okay,
Mattila pressed on and eventually his friend opened up: he was in a rut,
felt unhappy and couldn’t shake it.
That shook Mattila.
“It was tough seeing such a good friend go through that and not knowing
what was wrong,” said Mattila, a Grade 12 student from Prince George. “He
needed help and it was eye opening for me not knowing what to do. I
realized he likely wasn’t alone in this situation and I vowed to figure out
how to help him and anyone else struggling with mental health issues.”
He began volunteering at a local mental health office and participating in
youth programs, and he’s now a mental health advocate for Mindcheck.ca, partners with the
Canadian Mental Health Association and the driving force behind Mindright.info, a health wellness
program designed to educate Cariboo Cougars players, coaches, parents, and
supporters about their mental health and the health of others.
Not surprisingly, his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
In 2015, Mattila was the recipient of the YMCA Youth Initiative of the Year
Award and was the first beneficiary of the Northern Health Community Health
Star program. He was also a torchbearer at the Canada Winter Games, and was
nominated for a Champions of Wellness Award.
His achievements on the ice, in the classroom, and within the community
were recognized last year as well, as he won a Mac’s AAA Midget Tournament
Scholarship and was nominated for the Young Male Volunteer of the Year
Award in Kelowna.
As part of the TELUS Cup, Mattila will speak at the awards banquet on April
29. He’s excited to speak of life outside of hockey to reinforce how
important mental health is to being healthy overall.
“I enjoy speaking to peers about these issues because it’s coming from
someone who understands what they’re going through right now in their
lives,” said Mattila. “There are pressures from school and sports and just
growing up in general. That can become overwhelming and you need to know
where to turn for help.
“I hope I can engage the players competing in the tournament and spread the
message that you’re not alone in what you’re going through. Hopefully the
coaches and GMs hear that and realize this is a big stage for their players
and it’s important to have resources to help them.”
Mattila speaks highly of his latest endeavour, Mindright.info, thanking
Cougars GM and head coach Trevor Sprague, and his wife Jessie, for helping
design and launch the site, which the B.C. Major Midget League will soon
take over and make a league initiative.
Sprague is amazed at not only the player, but also the person Mattila is.
“There’s no question when he was trying out for our hockey club that he was
a guy who is going to wear a letter, just the way he portrays himself and
his confidence is great,” said Sprague. “He has a lot on his plate and
there’s never any excuses from him. That’s tremendous.”
“The guys joke that he’s the spokesperson for our team, always in front of
cameras doing interviews. He’s well respected by his peers. He’s a good
leader and a quality person to everyone in the room; his attention to
detail in his community endeavours is excellent, plus he’s a straight-A
All that without mentioning the 5-foot-10, 180-pound forward is a tenacious
player with unmatched work ethic and a physical bite that will help the
Cougars in their quest for the TELUS Cup.
Mattila understands the impact he can have as a role model and he’s clearly
taking it seriously. That won’t stop when his minor hockey career finishes
at season’s end.
Next fall he’ll begin his post-secondary education in Kelowna, pursuing a
business degree in management with his sights set on one day becoming a
“That stuff will all come together, I’ll figure it out, but I know for sure
I’ll be promoting mental health and working closely with the Canadian
Mental Health Association to raise awareness and help end the stigma
associated with mental illness.”
As for the Cougars and their hopes of winning the TELUS Cup as the host
team, Mattila is confident he and the boys will make some noise, thoughts
echoed by Sprague.
“Our guys have the chance to win the whole thing and that’s what we’re
going there for.”