Meet Dakota



What the Assist Fund means to me: Chaley Thibeau

The Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund helped Chaley’s daughter Dakota work through her emotions and keep a connection to her happy place – on the ice.

Growing up, I played hockey, and it is special to see my 11-year-old daughter pick up the game and enjoy it.


Dakota is happiest when she is in the crease for her team. She showed interest in hockey from an early age and tried being a regular skater, but really found her groove when she put on the goaltending equipment for the first time.


A few years ago, my partner and I separated, and I made the transition to being a single mom of three. The separation was difficult on Dakota. She is a kid that has big feelings, and seeing us go through that as a family was hard on her.


We tried our best to keep her happy, healthy and engaged in activities. Hockey is a great outlet for her to work through those strong emotions and having time on the ice gives her time to be around her friends and be happy.


But being a goaltender has its costs. I didn’t want her to not have the opportunity to play the game, but didn’t know how I was going to make it happen this year. Hockey means everything to her, and I wanted to do everything I could to help her stay involved and play with the travelling team.


I heard about the Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund from Dakota’s coach, and we easily applied. It was a quick process, and when we got approved it was such a relief to be able to tell her that she could keep playing with her friends.


As her mom, I get to see her be herself and be happy on the ice. When she started playing hockey, she enjoyed herself, but when she went in net, that’s when she really started to shine. She wants to play well all the time and it humbles her when she doesn’t always make the save, but it fuels her competitive drive. Her teammates always come over and cheer her on.


Playing hockey continues to build her confidence and compassion for her teammates, and that has continued to happen because of the help we received from the Assist Fund.


Dakota would love to play as far as she can go. Her dad played competitively throughout his youth, and we have talked to her about options, including scholarships being available at higher levels. She has big dreams, and we want to help her achieve those. Not being able to afford it shouldn’t be a barrier.


Having the Assist Fund cover the cost of Dakota’s registration gave me the extra money to get her equipment she needed for the season. I feel so fortunate to get this funding and I am just super grateful that Dakota can keep playing and growing in the game. It made a huge difference for us.


The best part as her mom is to watch her be happy, grow and build those lifelong friendships. That’s fulfilling for me and I’m really proud of her for what she has achieved. This year, we are grateful to have access to something awesome like the Assist Fund as she continues to reach for her dreams.


Hockey Eastern Ontario