Courageous boy takes a stand

Matthew Marotta is being lauded as a hero and a shining example of courage and sportsmanship.

You have probably never heard of him but his story should be inspiring for every parent, every coach and every player whatever sport they happen to play.

Matthew just happens to play hockey - pee wee hockey in Prince George.

His team was in Vernon this past week for the Coca Cola Classic Hockey Tournament, part of Vernon's Winter Carnival.

After his team lost to a team from Nanaimo in double overtime in the fifth place game, the entire team, coaches and players left the ice and went to their dressing room without shaking hands or staying to receive their plaques.

Matthew Marotta stayed.

Tia Heslop, manager of the Nanaimo team says Matthew went to the blue line and went down on one knee.

"He was so courageous," says Heslop, whose son plays on the Nanaimo team.

"His coach was yelling at him to get off the ice but he shook his head and went down on one knee at the blue line. Some parents in the crowd were crying as they watched...what a great show of sportsmanship."

Prior to all this there was a faceoff in the Nanaimo end with 14 seconds left in double overtime.

Off the faceoff, Nanaimo eventually skated down the ice and scored with about seven seconds left on the clock. Problem was, the timekeeper forgot to start the clock.

An argument ensued and the goal was allowed to stand. Prince George coach Ryan Arnold pulled his team off the ice in apparent protest.

Matthew Marotta ignored the request and instead took his place at the blue line.

Sandy Moger, head coach of Vernon Minor Hockey, says the entire Nanaimo team skated over and patted the young man on the head in a show of respect and sportsmanship.

Lisa Mazurek, whose son also played in the tournament shared the story on Facebook.

"KUDOS to his parents who must be sooo proud and the Nanaimo Clippers Pee Wee team that recognized his courage.True class and sportsmanship. I feel truly blessed to have witnessed such an event," she stated on her Facebook post.

"The first thing Lucas (her son) said to me this morning was how incredibly courageous this young man was. He made such an impression on everyone. My wish is this story makes it's way back to this young man or his family so he realizes how much of an impact he had on so many."

Heslop emailed Matthew's family following the tournament congratulating him on his courage.

"I am the team manager of the Nanaimo Clippers.
On behalf of our team we just wanted to commend your son for his courage! Our group of parents were very impressed and most were moved to tears while he waited on the blue line all by himself!
Matthew demonstrated what a great player he truly is and what true sportsmanship is all about.
It took a lot of courage to do what he did, I hope all of our players learned something from this amazing display of courage and respect.
You must be amazing parents to have raised such a wonderful son. He will no doubt become a great man one day. This is very special moment in hockey and life that we will always remember.
Thank you
Tia Heslop and the Nanaimo Clippers PeeWee Tier 1"

Castanet contacted the Prince George coach for his side of the story, however, Arnold refused comment stating he was reluctant to speak at this point. He says he has been painted by the media as the bad guy and prefers to reserve comment until more independent facts come to light.

Arnold did send a letter of apology to the Nanaimo team.

If you have video or pictures of the incident, please email to [email protected]


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