As of January 8th, it has been a full year since the tragic passing of former AA Estevan TS&M Bruins Assistant Coach Mike Sarada.
READ MORE: Local Coach Leaves Behind Lasting Impact
Ever since, the planning for the Mike Sarada Athlete Education Centre has been in the works. Tom Copeland left the position of head coach of the team to spearhead the creation of the centre since last year, and he says the impact Sarada had is one that will never be forgotten.
"People would come to the club and they wouldn't know who Mike Sarada was and by the time they left he'd made a meaningful impact on their life. Mike was the kind of guy that could talk to anybody and would talk to anybody. He got to know these kids and these parents as people, not just hockey players and hockey parents, and that's what's missed."
Still this season around minor hockey rinks in Saskatchewan, you'll still see players wearing stickers that memorialize Sarada right on their helmets to honour a man that did so much for them on the ice.
"We tried our best to build good young men and Mike was a huge part of that. When I first got the job, he was the first guy I thought of and when I asked him, it didn't even take him thirty seconds to say yes, he wanted to be there and he wanted to make an impact on these kids and he did."
Since his passing, many man hours of planning and raising money have been put together to honour Sarada through the Mike Sarada Athlete Education Centre. There has been delays as to the building of the centre, but a location has been set and a partnership with the Estevan Bruins has led centre going right into the player's lounge of Affinity Place. Hopes to get the centre up and running for next season could be delayed a little further depending on the progress during the off season according to Copeland, but it's more important to get this done right to honour his friend rather than rush to put it together.
"We want to make sure what we do is done correctly and world class and is a bit of a legacy project and not just thrown together for the sake of throwing it together," says the former head coach. He says he wants to make sure that all hockey teams in Estevan will be able to use it, from minor hockey to Bruins hockey.
"He grew as a coach over the years and... it's one of those things that make you realize you don't necessarily appreciate the guy enough until their gone, and it teaches us that we need to appreciate people more because there's a lot of good things happening in our community, a lot of people giving a lot of time and Mike was one of them, and we need to appreciate those people while they're alive and not just wait until they die."