2022 hcf assist fund karstyn calleigh

What the Assist Fund means to me: Heather Tully

The Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund helped Heather’s twins Karstyn and Calleigh remain part of the hockey community – their extended family – and keep a connection to the game

May 9, 2022

Hockey is a healthy outlet for my 12-year-old twins, Karstyn and Calleigh. After losing my job during the COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn’t sure I could afford to keep them in the sport they love so much.

Growing up in Winnipeg, my twins showed an interest in hockey after we drove past the Canlan Sports complex and Karstyn saw pictures of hockey players on the building. He said he wanted to try hockey, despite never having been on skates.

They were six years old when I put them in a learn-to-skate program and since then, they have both flourished in the game and the love has only grown as they have gotten older.

The connection we have built with the hockey community in our area has created an extended family. The friendships we have created are lifelong.

Karstyn has a fierce competitive streak, which creates some challenges for him, but hockey allows him to work through those, with help from his coaches.

Calleigh is such a free-spirited girl and her personality shines when she is in the dressing room and on the ice with her teammates.

And for me, I still have connections with other hockey parents from previous years. Hockey is important to my kids, so it was important to me to continue to keep them playing the game.

I heard about the Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund through our league convenor. When the company I worked for went bankrupt during the pandemic, I struggled as a single mom to find my footing again and continue to give my kids what they needed and wanted.

They understood the situation as best they could, but I also tried to exhaust all options before I broke their hearts if I couldn’t keep them in hockey.

When I looked further into the Assist Fund, I applied. When that letter came that said I received the funding, I cried. It was such a smooth and easy process and when I told Karstyn and Calleigh about the Assist Fund, they were excited.

Playing hockey at a high level is a dream for Karstyn – he wants to make it to the National Hockey League, like every other Canadian boy. He has that competitive fire and is so focused on getting better. He wants to achieve that dream, but is also thinking about becoming a child sport psychologist to help others with the issues he struggles with.

As for Calleigh, she would love to play for Canada’s National Women’s Team. She isn’t as competitive as Karstyn is – she wants to have fun, first and foremost. She is still figuring out who she is as a person, but whatever she ends up doing, I know she will dream big.

To have a group of people that care about each other’s families is so much more important than winning games. Hockey has shown us that it isn’t just about the game.

We are so grateful that the Assist Fund exists for families like ours and helps keep kids like Karstyn and Calleigh stay involved in the game. They would have been devastated to not be playing hockey and without the Assist Fund, it wouldn’t have been possible. Getting the funding was a bright spot for me as their mom and I can’t wait to see them and their teammates continue to grow in the game and build stronger friendships off the ice.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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