D.C. youth hockey coach scores Bridgestone leadership honors

Jan. 1, 2020
For his dedication to the enhancement of youth hockey and his deep devotion to teaching young players the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, Neal Henderson of Washington, D.C. has been named winner of the 2010 Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Le

For his dedication to the enhancement of youth hockey and his deep devotion to teaching young players the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, Neal Henderson of Washington, D.C. has been named winner of the 2010 Bridgestone Mark Messier Youth Leadership Award.

The honor includes a $5,000 grant from the tire maker, which was presented to Henderson in Philadelphia by Messier prior to Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final.

The program was created to reward youth hockey players or mentors for their leadership and educational contributions. Nominations were received from across the U.S. and Canada.

“We had so many impressive nominations for the award that it was difficult to choose a winner,” Messier reports. “Coach Henderson really embodies the things that youth hockey should be about. He’s really an educator on skates who’s not only teaching young players how to be better players and teammates, he’s teaching them to be leaders both on and off the ice. He’s a very deserving recipient of the award.”

Henderson founded the Fort DuPont Ice Hockey Club in 1978. The developmental program in the nation’s capital provides local and inner-city youth with the opportunity to participate in organized ice hockey. It is the oldest minority youth hockey program in the country and the goal is to teach young people discipline, via sports activities, to establish self-esteem, a sense of purpose and to offer an incentive to excel academically. The benefits of organized sports extend far beyond the rink: The girls and boys who join learn life skills as well.

“I’m humbled and I’m very honored to be receiving this award,” says Henderson. “I greatly admire the leadership and accomplishments of Mark Messier, so winning this award is especially gratifying. It’s really a testament to all of the volunteers and parents who have worked together to make the Fort DuPont Ice Hockey Club a great experience for the kids – that’s what it’s all about,” he points out.

“This award was created to reward people like Neal, whose leadership has enriched the lives of hundreds of young athletes and improved the quality of life in his hometown,” says Bridgestone Vice President Dan MacDonald, adding that “we have a strong commitment to community service, so we’re very pleased to be able to partner with Mark and the NHL to encourage leadership in youth sports with a focus on volunteerism, sportsmanship and education.”

The company is also title sponsor of The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award Presented by Bridgestone, which recognizes an NHL player as a superior leader in hockey and as a contributing member of society. The award honors an individual who leads by positive example through on-ice performance, motivation of team members and a dedication to community activities and charitable causes. This year the award will be presented at the 2010 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 23.

For more information, visit www.bridgestone-firestone.com.

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