© Thomas Becker - Amherst Daily News
From left – Travis Saulnier, Brandan LeBlanc, Danial MacDonald, Danny Moore, Colby Williams, Bailey Williams and Paul Williams show their support for the McDonald’s atoMc Hockey program.
AMHERST - Paul Williams and his sons share a common interest, hockey.
Two years ago Williams competitive spirit kicked into full gear as he decided to take to the sidelines as a voluntary coach for his sons’ hockey team.
“I like to show the kids how to improve their skills in a fair and sportsmanlike manner and I enjoy watching them improve. I feel I have a lot to contribute.”
With hockey being an expensive sport to play, Williams was encouraged when Danny Moore, McDonald’s owner and operator of the Amherst, Sackville and Shediac locations, reached out to him and the minor hockey league and suggested they register for the atoMc Hockey program.
And this past season they did just that.
With a long-standing relationship with Hockey Canada and their support of minor hockey, McDonald’s Canada created the atoMc Hockey program back in 2011-12.
atoMc Hockey provides support to teams from coast to coast by offering young players a unique opportunity that they would not have had otherwise.
“I think it’s an excellent program and its great for the kids,” said Moore.
With Moore’s help, the program has found it’s way to the Cumberland County and the surrounding areas for the first time this season and it has become a success.
There’s no required fee to join the program as it’s funded by McDonald’s Canada. It’s as simple as getting a group of volunteers together to form a league and registering online.
The participation growth has increased year-to-year. In 2012-13 the program had 34,000 participants, this year the number is expected to double.
“What we’ve done in the past is we simply provided shirts for them (players). This is a whole different program it gives them professional quality jerseys. It’s not just the cheap ones they simply wear,” said Moore.
In addition to the pro-style jerseys, which include the Team Canada logo stitched on the right shoulder, the program provides matching socks, atoMc Hockey branded toques, coaching equipment and a GO TEAM! Poster featuring the 2013 atoMc Hockey ambassadors – NHL players Drew Doughty and Marc-André Fleury and Canadian national women’s hockey player Tessa Bonhomme.
The program also offers the unique Golden Moment jersey, which Moore is fan of.
It gives the coach an opportunity to recognize individuals, whether they improved greatly or if they’re the star of the team. The chosen person then gets to don the golden jersey.
“They really stand out. It gives the chance to really recognize some of the kids.”
Moore has been really happy by the programs success and growth.
“It’s a really good program. It was really well thought out and we’re very proud of it.”
As for Williams, he said he’s grateful that the businesses within the community care and want to help.
“I think the kids are getting a positive reinforcement that somebody in their community is supporting them. You can feel the community spirit.”