Delta Students Attend Lessons in the Locker Room

Category: District

More than 180 students and educators, including 45 students from the Boys and Girls Clubs at Sands Secondary and North Delta Secondary, visited Rogers Arena, the home of the Vancouver Canucks, on Wednesday, February 28 to hear stories of resiliency from Canucks players and executives.

The event was part of Lessons in the Locker Room, a partnership between the Vancouver Canucks and the East End Boys Club (EEBC) that enables students to hear from individuals in the community on how they persevered through various ups and downs to achieve their success.

First to share her journey was the Canucks’ Assistant General Manager Émilie Castonguay. As a young hockey player, she was disappointed to learn that women couldn’t play in the NHL but that did not deter her from pursuing a career in the business-side of the NHL. After studying law and learning everything she could about how to run a hockey team, including an internship with the Montreal Canadiens, Émilie became the first female player agent. After several years as a player agent, she was hired by the Vancouver Canucks in January 2022. She encouraged students to find someone that believes in them, but also to have an unwavering belief in themselves.

Vice President and General Legal Counsel at Aquilini Investment Group Suzan El-Khatib shared the journey of her hard work and determination to become a lawyer. After graduating high school at 16 years old, she studied law at UBC.  She used sports analogies to share valuable advice with students on the importance of getting an education, setting goals, working hard, enjoying what you do and taking the time to celebrate successes.

In his presentation to students, it was apparent that Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini’s entrepreneurial skills began at a young age. Growing up close to the PNE grounds, he leveraged the opportunity to find parking spaces in the neighbourhood and earned money by charging PNE attendees for them. He encouraged students to work hard, build their skills and look for knowledgeable people that can help mentor them.

Canucks player Dakota Joshua shared how he used hockey to get a college education before being drafted to the AHL and NHL. He encouraged students to take some time to think about what they want in life. He stressed that having something to aim for will give them purpose and encouraged them to take small steps towards their goal every day.

Feedback from Delta students about the event was extremely positive:

“My experience at Lessons in the Locker Room was amazing. It was extremely fun and something I’m going to be looking forward to next year. This was my first year and it was an amazing opportunity and learning experience.” – Marcus, Sands Secondary.

“It was my first time being at Roger’s Arena ever in my life and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to participate in something like this. The Captain’s Room was amazing and the atmosphere was so pleasant. Each guest speaker was incredible – Suzan, Émilie, Mr. Aquilini and Dakota Joshua were all spectacular. Each of their stories were inspiring and interesting. Mr. Aquilini is definitely now one of my biggest influences. It was an honour to share a room with these incredible people. Overall, the speakers, the tremendous food, and the unique merchandise all led to a great experience and one that I will never forget.” – Shubhi, Sands Secondary.

“I would like to give a big thank you to the East End Boys Club and the staff at Rogers Arena. I have been so inspired by the presenters. This field trip was my first time at Rogers Arena. I thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality. Thank you to Jim and Mr. Aquilini for the opportunity.” – Soham, North Delta Secondary.

“The Rogers Arena trip was one of the best trips in my lifetime. It was very inspiring as well as there were many speakers that gave us their precious time.” – Dhruv, North Delta Secondary.

“The trip was really good and I enjoyed it very much. My favorite part was meeting the owner- that was really good, and I’m happy to be part of Boys club at North Delta. I would love to go back to Rogers Arena. My highlight was meeting new people and the food was really good.” – Krish, North Delta Secondary.

The event was organized by EEBC Founder and Executive Director, Jim Crescenzo, who welcomed youth to the event. EEBC offers a valuable leadership program for youth with the goal of providing life-skills training, socio-emotional support and post-secondary guidance to pursue higher education in both academic and trade skills.

At Sands and NDSS, the Boys and Girls Clubs work with the EEBC to teach students social and employment skills and give them opportunities in various employment fields to learn about different careers and how to make themselves more employable.