Last weekend, a former Waterloo Black Hawks forward had one of those days you remember forever. It didn’t involve scoring a goal, playing in a game, or signing a professional contract. In fact, it really had nothing to do with hockey at all.
With family and friends there to celebrate, Eriah Hayes got married. The “friends” on hand included Black Hawks Housing Coordinator Staci Cirksena, who – like many junior hockey housing parents – has become almost more like family since the 2008/09 season which Hayes spent in Waterloo.
“The relationships housing families and players form are priceless,” said Cirksena. “I still get calls on Mother’s Day and at Christmas and other holidays from many of the players who have lived in our house.”
Hayes echoes those sentiments.
“It was an all-around great experience,” he said, adding, “it’s a relationship which will last a lifetime; I plan to check in with Staci and Isaiah and keep up with what they are doing, for sure.”
Cirksena and the Black Hawks are currently looking for families who are interested in hosting a Black Hawk player during the coming season. An informational meeting, including questions and answers from Cirksena, other current housing parents, and Waterloo coaches will be held in the team’s offices at Young Arena at 5 p.m. on Monday, August 17th.
“This is a way to help a kid who is chasing a dream and trying to get to the next level,” said Cirksena. “When you come to the rink with that perspective, it changes the way you watch the game.”
Hayes has continued to climb the hockey ladder from Waterloo. After taking up the sport relatively late in his childhood, a 27-goal effort with the Hawks during his final junior season propelled him to Minnesota State-Mankato. With four strong years as a Maverick added to his resume, he signed with the San Jose Sharks in April, 2013 and made his NHL debut less than a year later.
Cirksena and her family cheered him along from Waterloo, all the way to the top.
“Eriah was a great kid. He worked hard, and has deserved all of the success he has had. On and off the ice, he has been a great role model for my son,” Cirkesena noted.
She suggests many types of families have the right environment. Those with kids who play hockey or with children who have recently gone to college are often a natural fit. Teachers and other working professionals also make strong candidates.
Benefits include a stipend, season ticket discount, and special pricing at Party Town Outfitters, but for Cirksena and many other housing families, those are not the truly rewarding parts of the experience.
“It’s really like having another kid in the family. I hope anyone who is interested will come out on August 17th, ask a lot of questions, weigh the benefits and responsibilities, and really see if this is something which is right for them,” she said.
For more information on the Black Hawks’ housing program or next month’s informational meeting, contact the Black Hawks at (319) 232-3444 or email Cirksena directly at email@example.com.