By Luke Galati
Some people go to China to see the Great Wall, while others go to teach kids how to play hockey.
This past August, Kori Cheverie braved the 40 degree heat of Shanghai and Beijing to participate in a hockey camp for kids.
“The ice was like a puddle,” she said. “It was like a lake.”
Cheverie, 27, one of Ryerson’s skate-training specialists, went on the trip with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ hockey development department, where she works as a part-time staffer.
With the Leafs looking to gain worldwide exposure and branch out to as many markets as possible, the stars aligned.
“They were looking to have a female presence on their trip, so they asked me to come along,” said Cheverie, who also plays professional hockey with the Toronto Furies.
It was her second time going to China, after representing the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s Team Canada at Harbin in 2009.
While working long days on the ice, she saw the difference in the game’s reach and popularity in China compared to hockey-crazed Canada.
“Beijing nearly has the same population as Canada [more than 20 million] and only 1,500 total kids play ice hockey in Beijing, while over half a million Canadians are registered,” she said.
Cheverie added that the difference in culture helped her learn a lot about how to teach.
The language barrier was another challenge, with only one translator and four on-ice instructors.
When they broke off into groups, she found some of the kids didn’t speak English.
Luckily, some of her students were able to act as translators. But the experience taught her an important lesson — how to become a more effective communicator.
“I now get to the point. I say what I’m going to say, show a demonstration and move on. That’s what I had to do there and it works really well [in Canada] too.”
The facility that the rink was in housed rock-climbing, badminton, tennis, fencing and a running track.
Cheverie spent her days teaching the fundamentals of skating and playing hockey, but she also gained an economic takeaway regarding the state of hockey abroad. Playing hockey in China is even more expensive than in Canada.
“In China, like in Canada, hockey is an expensive sport … even more there because hockey isn’t as prevalent, so they have to travel to Japan and Hong Kong to play teams,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that only the really wealthy have the chance to play.”
Back at home, Cheverie’s continuing to immerse herself in the hockey lifestyle.
“I love teaching hockey, it’s my passion,” she said. “It’s not work. It’s life.”