Originally published December 27, 2017
by Steve MacNaull, The Daily Courier
Myles Mattila didn’t have to choose between higher education and high-calibre hockey.
“I knew I wanted to get a business degree, but I still wanted to play at the highest level of hockey I could,” said the 18-year-old.
“I’m lucky I’m able to do both with the perfect fit I have with Okanagan College and the Kelowna Chiefs. College is flexible and the Chiefs encourage players to attend school.”
The college offers Mattila a schedule of morning and evening classes, so he can practice midday with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team.
And most games are on weekends, so they don’t interfere with school, either.
“It’s a healthy balance,” said Mattila.
“I want to play hockey, but I also want to get the education that will lead me to become a lawyer.”
Mattila is making it work with aplomb.
The five-foot-10-inch, 180-pound right winger has seven goals and 12 assists in the 27 games he’s played with the Chiefs so far this season.
He’s also doing well at college.
While this is admirable, it’s really Mattila’s volunteer work in the mental-health realm that earned him the Top Forty Under 40 nomination.
While playing his final season of major midget with the Cariboo Cougars in Prince George, he started the MindRight.info website.
“I haven’t suffered myself with mental illness,” said Mattila.
“But, I know mental illness doesn’t discriminate. I’ve seen friends and fellow hockey players suffer with depression.”
While the website was designed to help local hockey players access information about mental health and how to seek help, it is also a resource for the wider community.
“There’s definitely a stigma to mental illness, especially in sports and hockey because the guys are supposed to be big and tough and not show weakness and not share their emotions,” said Mattila.
“Mind Right lets people know they are not alone and it’s OK to get help.”
The website caught the attention of B.C. Hockey, which bestowed its President’s Award on Mattila and is recommending MindRight.info be provided to all minor-hockey players in the province.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Mittila Twitter nod when he heard of his advocacy.
The volunteerism also helped Mattila qualify for one of only four Trevor Linden Scholarships awarded each year to students in B.C.
“I think it may have been Lana Quinn (who works with former hockey star Linden in the Vancouver Canucks organization) who nominated me for Top Forty Under 40,” said Mattila.