Coach Kevin: a day to remember forever
Kevin White will be known to many Genting Casino Coventry Blaze fans as the ‘noisy guy’ with the booming voice, chanting from the back of block 8 or @blazefan501 on Twitter.
What some people will not know is that Kevin has been fighting Oesphagael Cancer for the past 15 months. He has undergone Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, an Ivor Lewis procedure, contracted Sepsis with a ventilator keeping him alive, suffered multiple organ failure, successfully overcoming all of this only to learn in late August, that his cancer had metastasised to his liver, small bowel and stomach which is now terminal.
The term ‘Hockey Family’ has become one commonly used in recent years, and exemplified none more so than within the Coventry Blaze fanbase, who with the hockey community as a whole came together to raise significant funds to help the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer Adam Calder in his fight against cancer.
More recently though, it’s Kevin whom the Blaze Family have come together to support, in a way that Wife Michelle describes as “another level.”
“No matter how tired, ill or pained Kevin feels, the support network and the atmosphere at Blaze games will always inspire him and remind him to keep on fighting,” Michelle said.
Recognising the importance of the Blaze and the game to Kevin’s fight, one of the Blaze Booster Club founders and popular 50/50 seller Tim Ansell, approached and worked with the Blaze management and Elite League to arrange a very special night to allow Kevin to become ‘Coach’ for the night against the Braehead Clan on 16th September 2017.
Overwhelmed by the opportunity, a nervous ‘Coach Kev’ arrived at the Skydome Arena with his game face on, ready to go to work. He was met by the Head Coach Danny Stewart and Director of Hockey James Pease who took him through the game night routine, lines, the tactics and plans for the night.
Coach Kevin was then sent to scout the Braehead warm-up, armed in the knowledge of what to look out for.
Then it was game time. As the lights went out, Kevin stood pride of place at the centre of the Blaze bench, shoulder to shoulder with Stewart and Pease awaiting the arrival of his players for the night.
Goals from Luke Ferrara and Marco Vallerand gave Blaze a strong 2-0 advantage going into the first period break, which for Kevin meant a relaxed experience in the dressing room. The middle twenty though were a different story with the only marker coming from Clan’s Adam Brace for 2-1. Heated words this time were spoken by the Head Coach, the effect being two further Coventry goals from Jordan Pietrus and Ryan Dingle to wrap-up a home win and give Coach Kevin a 1-0 win record.
Kevin said of the experience, “The Coventry Blaze club welcomed me onto the bench and needless to say, this rare opportunity was emotional, exciting and I am very humbled to have been given this unique memory. I have ultimate respect for this club and was privileged to be allowed to be involved with such an open and honest management team. To say that my eyes were opened to the back-room aspect of the organisation, having spent a very informative few hours, would be an understatement. The insight into what goes on behind the scenes was very open, informative and refreshing and has given me an appreciation of matters that I may have incorrectly judged previously.
“Gaining fist pumps from the guys in front of me when goals were scored, engaging with me above and beyond the call of duty, is testament to the kind of team we have here in Coventry.
“The guys in the dressing room post-game allowed me to witness winning celebratory rituals, presenting me with a chorus of ‘three cheers for Coach Kevin’ and a signed stick with a personalised message on it.
“To say that I have admiration for the Coventry Blaze management, team, volunteers and fans is an understatement. This ‘one off’ opportunity gave me a chance to create a fantastic memory which will be carried forward by my family for many years to come. We are all very humbled by the whole experience and the caring nature of the people that made this happen.
"Thank you is not a strong enough expression of gratitude for what this meant to my self-esteem and the positive impact it has had on my attitude to how I handle matters, that I have no control of, in the coming months. One thing that is for sure is my intent is to be at the Skydome for every game, cheering on my team, through thick and thin”.
“On a much lighter note, I can honestly say that I have retired from coaching with a 100% win-rate and that is something not many other coaches can say.”
All the best Kevin! Was great having you around yesterday! #1-0 ðð²— Ross Venus (@rvenus59) September 18, 2017
What a night!!! ð Was special for all of us also Kevin! Cheers....... Kev 1-0 ð²ð— Brett Robinson (@Brobash23) September 18, 2017
100% as a coach Kev, thanks for helping us out!!!— Luke Ferrara (@Minifeds19) September 18, 2017
You're the man, Kevin! Thanks for joining us! Ps Watch out for those pucks ð— Ryan Dingle (@rdingle19) September 18, 2017
Michelle concluded, "The support from the club, fan base and everyone involved with the Blaze has been amazing. Kevin takes great comfort knowing that I can, and will, continue to come along to the games and will never be on my own, as we have made many close friends who are a superb source of support, of whom we can't thank enough."
Article published in the current edition of our official magazine OnFire. On sale from sellers around the Skydome Arena every match night.
Pick up a copy throughout December to read an in-depth interview with Captain Pietrus. Dax Lauwers, Gustav Ahnelov, Danny Stewart, Danick Paquette and Manchester goalie Mike Clemente are all featured.