LITTLE CURRENT—While he is moving away in large part to continue pursuing his long-term goal of making it to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and from there on to the National Hockey League (NHL), education is first and foremost for young Kohyn Eshkawkogan.
“My parents and coaches told me to dream big,” said Kohyn. “Because I love hockey, playing in the OHL and NHL is my big goal. Education is important and I try to get good grades. I do my best to balance all my commitments and responsibilities.”
Kohyn, a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation who lives in Little Current, spent the past seasons playing for the Sudbury-based Nickel City Sons Under-14 AAA squad. This season, he will be moving with his family to Mississauga, where he will commence studies at The Hill Academy, a specialized independent school that allows students to receive elite sports training while continuing academic studies. The 5-foot-7-inch, 125-pound defenceman will play with the Mississauga-based Reps Hockey Club’s Under-15 AAA team. The Reps participate in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, billed as the largest minor hockey league in the world, with more than 40,000 participants each year.
“There are lots of factors at play,” said Kohyn’s father Kevin Eshkawkogan. “We are still navigating all of this. The Hill Academy accepted Kohyn. He will be entering Grade 9 anyway, so we figured we would go there.”
The academy offers all types of programs, including hockey, lacrosse and golf. Kohyn is in the hockey program. Players attend classes earlier in the day then participate in off-ice training, head back to class, followed by lunch then on-ice skill development.
“So Kohyn will have a longer day that incorporates both his education studies and hockey,” said Mr. Eshkawkogan. “This will be his under-15 age group year. It used to be called major bantam year. He has played a lot of hockey in Toronto so it will definitely not be a totally unknown environment for him.”
Kohyn’s first priority will be education and second will be hockey, said his father. “Kohyn knows if he doesn’t get good grades in school, there’s no extracurricular activities. In our house, it is either school, work or take care of yourself, both for Kohyn and our daughter.”
“His plan is to go to school this coming year at Hill Academy,” Mr. Eshkawkogan said. “I’ve had an office down there in Toronto for the past two years, so our home base will be there and Manitoulin Island, where AOK is my base for work.”
Mr. Eshkawkogan is the chief executive officer for Indigenous Tourism Ontario and his wife works in AOK. They have rented a condo in Toronto and will split time between there and the Island rather than move the whole family, he said.
Mental preparedness and physical development are part of Kohyn’s training as he pursues his goal of playing professional hockey. Three times a week, he does hill sprint workouts in AOK followed by an 800 metre sprint up McLean’s Mountain. “He does that steep hill as part of his sprint training. It’s nice to see his progression over the past three weeks. His goal is four minutes 30 seconds. He did 4:39 and will get to under four minutes. It’s nice to see the power and acceleration,” said Mr. Eshkawkogan
On November 13, Kohyn will turn 14 years old. He hopes to play minor hockey for two more years before he is, hopefully, drafted into the OHL. Ultimately, reaching the NHL draft is what he wants to do. He will go into the draft a year after most of his friends do. “A lot of kids born in 2008 will be drafted and he will have another year of development,” Mr. Eshkawkogan said.