2021 nmu18t donovan mccoy

A family role model

With his siblings following in his footsteps, Donovan McCoy is very aware of his impact not only as a brother, but as a role model

Shannon Coulter
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July 30, 2021
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When something exciting and monumental happens in your life, sometimes it can take a moment for it to sink in. That was the case for Donovan McCoy when he saw his name pop up on the TV announcing his selection as the 15th pick in the 2020 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) draft.

“My dad kind of jumped on me because he got it a bit early,” McCoy says. “It didn’t really hit me until everyone started celebrating and then I started celebrating.”

The celebration was quickly followed by a phone call from Peterborough Petes general manager Michael Oke to congratulate McCoy.

“Those probably were the most exciting 15-20 minutes I’ve ever had,” he says.

The excitement of the moment was not lost on McCoy’s siblings. The love of hockey runs deep in his family, with three of his five siblings also playing the game.

Rheydan, who is nine months older than McCoy, has played alongside his brother frequently growing up. They became interested in hockey after spending time at rinks with their dad, Norman McCoy, since he does arena maintenance for the recreation department with the City of Belleville.

“(Rheydan’s) playing in Napanee, going to a few junior camps,” the 16-year-old says. “He might have a longer road, but I talk to him all the time and I tell him it’s not impossible to get here.”

His sister, 11-year-old Kalysia, has a great hockey mind and uses her height to her advantage in her age group, according to McCoy.

“If she keeps trying, she can do whatever she wants, hopefully make it to [Team Canada] or even play at higher levels for women’s hockey.”

Ten-year-old Brycen really admires his older brother. In fact, he even chose to wear the same number as McCoy when he played for the Quinte Red Devils.

“My younger brother, he follows me and does a lot of things that I do,” McCoy says. “He’s always asking me about different guys on Peterborough, or even with the [National Men’s Under-18 Team summer development camp], I know when I get home, he’s going to have a whole questionnaire for me to answer.”

His other two siblings, 22-year-old Anthony Aylesworth and six-year-old Adria, are the only ones who do not play hockey, but Adria is expected to hit the ice when she’s older. With the family following in his footsteps, McCoy is very aware of the impact he has not only as an big brother, but also as a mentor.

“I feel like I’m (a coach) for my younger siblings, just being able to teach them things here and there, even if we’re at home or on the ice with each other,” he says. “I just feel like a big role model, almost like a teacher.”

For families that have multiple hockey players, there’s a lot of planning and sacrifices involved—something Norman McCoy knows all too well.

“There were some weekends, especially two years ago, if you’d seen our calendar on the fridge, they were all colour-coded for each child and it was just a rainbow of colours from Sunday to Sunday,” Norman says.

Faced with four unique hockey schedules to balance, Norman is very grateful for the support of family and friends in the hockey community. Having a village of supportive people has made it easier to make sure every child is where they need to be.

“When they say that [it takes a village], it’s not being cliché, it’s very true,” he says. “You need good people around you to help you do it, especially families that have multiple kids in hockey. You can only be in one place at one time.”

Of course, the balancing act can be tough at times. Sometimes personal time for Norman and McCoy’s stepmom, Tammy, got pushed to the side to allow for driving to tournaments and first periods of games have been missed from juggling other schedules. But for Norman, he would do it all again in a heartbeat.

“Seeing where they all ended up and where the rest are going, as the journey is still kind of taking off for them… it was definitely sacrifices worth making.”

Those sacrifices are not lost on McCoy, either. He’s very grateful to have support from his dad, his stepmom, his mom Lisa Aylesworth, his stepdad Ron Anderson and all of his siblings.

“It really means everything to me just knowing that they’re there, right with me,” McCoy says. “I’m just glad that they were willing to take those sacrifices and help me get to where I am today.”

Although it has been more than a year since McCoy was drafted by the Petes, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed his OHL debut. During the extended off-season, McCoy went to the gym, got on the ice when he could and worked with trainers to complete summer programs to stay in game shape.

“It was really hard at first,” he says. “I had to really train my mind to not be down on myself as the season kept getting pushed back or cancelled. I had to keep looking at the positives on what I was doing, just being hopeful that something will come eventually.”

The pandemic also provided some extra family time before McCoy leaves for Peterborough. It’s important that he takes time to show his support to his siblings, so whenever he didn’t have hockey, McCoy says he would be out cheering them on at their games.

“You couldn’t ask for a better relationship between all these kids together,” Norman says.

Back at home, McCoy helps his younger siblings with schoolwork, makes lunches and spends time playing together, whether it’s video games or mini-sticks.

“I think I’m still undefeated in my family,” he says of his mini-stick career. “I don’t think any of them will beat me, so I’ll probably be undefeated for a little bit longer.”

With the OHL on track to return in October, McCoy is looking forward to finally playing with his new teammates at the Petes’ training camp. His family has already planned a road trip to see his exhibition games and home opener.

But one of McCoy’s favourite parts about playing in Peterborough? It’s only a 90-minute drive away from his home in Belleville.

“My friends have been bugging me saying that they’re going to be coming down to Peterborough a lot since it’s close. That’s always a good thing to know that I got my friends and my family just down the highway from me that are always there supporting me.”

For more information:

Dominick Saillant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
514-895-9706
[email protected]

 

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

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