Atrainer is the often the unsung hero on a hockey team.
At the B.C. Hockey League level, he's there to patch up players and equipment, and do everything from laundry to game day arena preparations.
A good trainer can be worth their weight in gold.
It's a path that is tough to travel, with long hours at the arena and on the road.
Nanaimo Clippers trainer Rhett White was recognized for the work he puts in with the club on Friday when he was named equipment manager for team Canada West for the World Jr. A Championships in Yarmouth, N.S. He will be joined by Clippers forward and Nanaimo native Brendan Taylor, for at least the Calgary camp, which starts on Oct. 26.
"It's an honour to be recognized. .. to go do something like this and go for our country," said White, 28. "I know it's not the stage that the world juniors is, but it's a step in the right direction for myself."
The position is one White applied for last season.
Clippers head coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp said the appointment is well deserved. The two have been together for most of the last six years with stops in Powell River with the Kings, the Grande Prairie Storm and now in their third season in Nanaimo.
"He's a true team player, he really cares about the team," said Vandekamp. "He's a leader by example with his work ethic, he's always prepared and does a great job. I think that filters down through the rest of the club, that he has that much pride and encourages everyone else to carry themselves with pride and work hard too."
White grew up in Swift Current, Sask., and was on a completely different trajectory in Grade 12. He was the starting centre on his high school football team and had planned to tryout for the University of Regina Rams Canadian Interuniversity Sport football team.
But a broken leg changed all of that.
The consummate teammate, he discovered his current craft as a way to still contribute to something bigger.
"It's about making the game work for everybody and making the game work for yourself," said White. "You need all the tools to make the game complete."
Like the players he's helping, he too has dreams of working in the NHL and going as far up the stream as he can. Working at the World Jr. A Championships is a big opportunity to fulfilling those aspirations.
"All of us do this with the end goal of the NHL, but it's helping the players move along too, it's knowing you made a difference in a kid's life," he said.
His contributions are not lost on the Clippers players.
"Whitey's awesome. He treats us like his own, he does everything for us and he's a good trainer," said Taylor, who knows he will be able to count on his skates being sharpened to his liking.
His selection to the Canada West camp was completely unexpected. Taylor was in the middle of his pre-game nap on Friday before catching the team bus to Port Alberni to play the Bulldogs when he got the call.
"I'm going to go there and do my best and hopefully I get a chance to make the team," he said. "This is going to be a good experience for me and I'm just excited to be going."
The interruption of his pregame ritual did not hurt him later that night, Taylor still scored a goal and an assist as they rallied to a 7-5 win over the Bulldogs.
The six-foot, 190-pound forward has been one of the Clippers' main offensive catalysts all season, leading the team with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 14 games.
This is a big year for the 18-year-old centreman, his third with the club, as NCAA programs really start to give him a look.
"He can be a real complete player on the ice, and I think as he learns to work hard consistently all the time and play with a little extra intensity, I think it will lead to success with him, and as his confidence grows he'll keep getting better," said Vandekamp.
The selection of the two means the Clippers will be without two of their big cogs for potentially the next two-and-a-half weeks as the tournament runs Nov. 4-10.
Still Vandekamp says the experience they get will be well worth it.
"It's part of the process, we're a developmental level of hockey here and you allow your people to continue to grow and develop in their careers," said Vandekamp.
The Clippers have won threeof-four games and are back in action on Wednesday in Port Alberni to play the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. On Friday they are at Bear Mountain to play the Victoria Grizzlies at 7 p.m. and on Sunday they host the Trail Smoke Eaters at 2 p.m.
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