laura stacey sticks for charity


How Laura Stacey’s annual ball hockey tournament shifted to providing life-saving medical equipment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Madison Koekkoek
May 13, 2020

In the simplest forms of hockey, players throw their sticks in a pile in the middle of the ice, teams are sorted at random and a shinny game ensues. ‘Sticks in’ is the ultimate sign of community, of coming together to share in the great Canadian game.

Under that premise, it’s no surprise Laura Stacey, a 2018 Olympic silver medallist with Canada’s National Women’s Team – not to mention a fierce believer in the power of sport to bring people and communities together – shifted the purpose of her annual LS7 Sticks In For Charity ball hockey tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the last two years, kids have been given the opportunity to play ball hockey on teams captained by Team Canada alumni – men, women and para hockey – as part of Stacey’s mission to provide an opportunity to stay active. But this year, due to the changing social landscape of a global pandemic, LS7 Sticks In For Charity quickly turned into an initiative that donated 510 Bauer shields to the doctors and nurses at SickKids Hospital in Toronto.

Shortly after the cancellation of the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship in early March, Stacey’s charity organizing committee came together to plan what would have been the third annual event, scheduled for June 27. From the start it was clear the event would have to be different this time around.

“After we realized cancelling [the event for this year] was our only option, and really the smartest option,” the Kleinburg, Ont., native says, “it became about reimagining the charity model and saying, ‘How can we change the charity so it’s meaningful this year?’”

The committee, comprised of Stacey’s family and friends, brainstormed ways LS7 could continue to have an impact given the restrictions placed on public gatherings.

“We realized we can change the idea of the tournament so the real captains, the real heroes, are the ones we’re supporting this year – the front-line workers.”

Stacey has been a Bauer-endorsed athlete for two years and was impressed when the company led the way in March by shifting its production facilities to make masks and shields.

Her existing relationship paved the way for a continued partnership. When Stacey reached out to ask if there was any way her charity could help, Mary Kay Messier, vice-president of global marketing with Bauer, saw an immediate alignment between Bauer’s efforts and Stacey’s local ties.

“When Mary Kay heard that I reached out, she was like ‘I have the perfect match. You’re from Toronto, your tournament is in Toronto, I think that would be awesome if you wanted to donate the 510 masks Toronto SickKids has requested.”

#StayInSticksIn was born when her committee brainstormed how to bring the initiative alive on social media and get more people to support it. Through the uncertainty of the times, the group never questioned its mission of bringing the hockey community together to give back.

“It’s nice to have it similar to the last few years, but different to say that this year we’re reimagining and we’re taking a step back to support the people who need it most,” Stacey says. “We talked extensively about how our mission always was to help get kids active and help the community get active. Not only was it about the tournament, but it was about helping the schools get their students active. But I think it’s a way bigger picture and it’s not so much about hockey or sports anymore. It’s a matter of staying alive and people’s health and safety.”

More than 50 teammates, friends, professional athletes and front-line workers came together to create a #StayInSticksIn video for social media – the star power included National Women’s Team captain Marie-Philip Poulin, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jayna Hefford, Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner and TSN anchor Kate Beirness, among others.

Stacey was impressed by the reach of the video, but not surprised. For her, the spirit of the campaign really drives home the notion that community in hockey is about so much more than the jerseys worn or the memories made at the rink.

“I think it’s incredible; it’s a family and I think everybody wants to help this pandemic and be a part of it in some way,” Stacey says. “It’s amazing to see the benefit of coming together and sharing our story and being a part of this one team. We are one Team Canada, but we’re also now a world and I think we’re all trying to come together and fight this.”

Dedication, resilience, teamwork, selflessness … qualities not only of a great teammate, but of great Canadians and truly remarkable global citizens.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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