By Lyonel Doherty
A 15-year-old Oliver boy’s dream of being drafted into the Western Hockey League (WHL) has come true.
“I was lying in bed when one of my friends texted me and said ‘congrats,’” recalled Brett Calhoon.
“I said what? What do you mean?”
Well, he confirmed soon enough that he was chosen to play for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2020 Bantam draft.
“I always dreamed of playing in the WHL when I was a kid,” Calhoon said in a telephone interview.
His love for hockey began at the age of six when his garage was transformed into a makeshift rink.
His mom soon bought him a pair of skates, and it was, like, “Clear the Track for Eddie Shack.” (For all you old-timers, that was the phrase used on a lunchbox that idolized the former NHL player in the 1960s.)
Fast forward a few years saw Calhoon attend Osoyoos Elementary School and the hockey academy in that community.
He subsequently moved to Oliver and played three seasons in South Okanagan Minor Hockey. His Pee Wee Rep team won bronze at the provincials in 2017.
Calhoon moved up to the BC Hockey Bantam Zone last year and is currently playing for the Okanagan Hockey Academy Bantam Prep team out of Penticton.
John Seminoff, who has coached minor hockey for more than 20 years, knew from the first moment he saw Calhoon that the boy had potential.
“As an individual player Brett had the complete package; he could skate, pass, shoot and was a fearless competitor on the ice.”
But Seminoff recalled that Calhoon was never satisfied with his skillset and was always striving to be better.
“I know as a coach it was sometimes a challenge to get Brett to restrain and work within a system, but honestly this is a problem I think every coach would love to have.”
Seminoff admitted he was on “pins and needles” for the entire day of the draft, waiting to see Calhoon’s name come up.
The coach said being selected in the WHL Bantam draft is an extremely big accomplishment that not many players ever achieve.
“I guess I will have to continue to wait with pins and needles in hopes that three years down the road I am able to see Brett get selected in another big draft.”
Calhoon, the son of Alvie Calhoon and Debbie Sidwell, is often described as a tenacious forward.
He chose the sport of hockey for its high energy and the fact that the play never stops.
He gives credit to the South Okanagan Minor Hockey Association for its success in building players.
“All the coaching is really good,” he said.
Brett isn’t thinking too far ahead right now because he just wants to put in the work in the WHL and take it one game at a time.
But he admitted the NHL looks alluring.
“I just want to make memories and get a scholarship maybe,” he said humbly.