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The recipient of the 2017 Stewy Stewart Memorial Award is Camrose Kodiaks goaltender Joey May. AJHL Chairman Greg Wood, along with members of the May family, presented the award to Joey prior to Sunday’s AJHL Playoff Game in Camrose, AB.
The Stewy Stewart Memorial Trophy is named in honour of a long-time Calgary area fan who supported hockey at all levels. ‘Stewy’ died in 1997 and the award was created to honour his support and commitment to the game. The Stewy Stewart Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the AJHL player in the South Division that best exhibits the following attributes: character, dedication, perseverance, integrity and sportsmanship.
The Kodiaks Coaching Staff was honoured to nominate Joey for the award. “When I look at the characteristics that are required for the Stewy Stewart Award, I immediately think of Joey May,” stated Kodiaks GM / Head Coach Boris Rybalka. “I cannot say enough great things about Joey. Even in times of hardship, Joey continues to be a leader in our community and a role model to many kids and adults!”
Along with a nomination, each applicant is required to submit an essay, which outlines his experience applying the attributes of character, dedication, perseverance, integrity and sportsmanship. Joey’s heartfelt essay was appropriately titled ‘Life’s Tests’:
I believe that each person has their heart, soul, and mind tested many times throughout their lifetime. People go through difficult stages in their lives, and face adversity. However, it is not the adversity that defines a person. Rather it is their reaction to their hardships that define them. In my own experiences as a young man I have had to face, and overcome, adversity on several occasions. Most recently I have been tested with a very unfair, and very upsetting set of circumstances. In August of 2016 my mother was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Getting this news completely destroyed the world that I was living in. My life has forever been changed because of this awful disease.
It is extremely difficult hearing that you are going to lose your mother at the age of 18. I think the toughest part of it all is imagining a life without her. My mom was always there for me. Driving me to hockey practice, sitting in on parent teacher interviews, going out for walks with my dogs, and even just sitting down and having a conversation. She has always been my role model, my hero. So when I learned that she did not have a long time to live I had no idea what to do. Before this all happened, I was all set to go up to Camrose to play Junior Hockey. This has always been a goal of mine, and I was finally going to achieve it. Of course until my life completely turned upside down.
It was a very difficult decision for me to actually come to Camrose to play hockey while my mom was still sick, and recovering from surgery in Calgary. As I said before, she was always there for me, and I felt that by leaving for hockey I was not there for her. Sometimes I still feel this way, that maybe I shouldn’t of come up to Camrose this season to play hockey. After all you only have one mother, and I want to look after her the same way she looked after me. However, knowing my mom, she would have been very disappointed in me if I did not. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and everything she did was so that her boys could succeed in life. She made sure we had the best education, the best opportunities, and were always able to pursue whatever goals we wanted. For myself, playing college hockey has always been my goal; and my mom wants nothing more than to see me accomplish that. That is why I know she is very proud that I am in Camrose working hard to achieve that goal, regardless of her current situation.
Luckily for me, right now I can say that she is still alive and still kicking. Throughout this year I have been able to come home and see her on several occasions. She even was able to watch me play a game. These visits, and every single moment spent with my mom mean so much to me. I truly love her with all my heart. Due to my strong bond to my mom this season has been extremely tough for me. I also know it will get tougher, when the time comes that my mom passes away. Nevertheless, life will move on. Despite how difficult it can be at times, life is still beautiful. I am forever thankful for everything my mom has done for me and the type of man she has raised me to be. This test that god has put my family and I through has been the most difficult thing I have ever faced. I can say it’s unfair, I can say it’s not right; but life is unfair and uncontrollable. Each and every day I work to live to my fullest potential, because that’s how my mom raised me. Someday soon I will be playing college hockey, living my dream, and my mom will be looking down on me smiling. Knowing the type of character, work ethic and drive needed to overcome this struggle and to live a full and happy life.