Connie Chiang attended her first Vancouver Warriors game with her family against the Calgary Roughnecks and loved every minute of it.
Every home game, the Warriors host a child and their family as part of Coach Curt’s Corner. The initiative was started by Warriors’ Head Coach and General Manager, Curt Malawsky — who’s a big believer in supporting the community.
Malawksy donates the tickets to B.C. Children’s Hospital, who then chooses the recipient to attend the game.
Chiang is an avid sports fan, but because of a heart problem at birth, she’s unable to play team sports but she doesn’t let it hold her back.
The 16-year-old is an accomplished athlete, taking up swimming and skiing and recently competed at the 2023 Special Olympics BC Winter Games in alpine skiing.
Getting to see the Warriors play live and seeing herself up on the jumbotron during the game, “felt like a dream,” Chiang said.
Malawsky had a similar program with the Calgary Roughnecks and was thrilled to be able to continue his work in the community and elevate the experience.
“I appreciate the support from Canucks Sports and Entertainment. There’s a lot of people around the team that make it all happen. I’m very grateful it’s off the ground and running and hopefully we’re putting smiles on faces,” Malawsky said.
With two sons of his own and having coached kids for decades, Malawksy has a soft spot for helping children. At 6:10 before every home game, he makes his way down the tunnel to meet with the Coach Curt’s Corner family and once he enters the room the tough exterior melts away and he goes full-on dad mode: lovable and making sure everyone has a smile on their face.
The kids make a new friend and Malawsky encourages the child and family to stop by and say hello if they see him inside the rink or if ever they see him outside it.
“I’ve been brought up that way to care about people and treat people how you want to be treated. It’s something that my mom ingrained in me that if you have goodwill you pass on that goodwill.
It’s important that they understand that Coach Curt cares about them and wants them to have fun at the game.
“Enjoying themselves and having a smile on their face means something,” Malawsky said.
Chiang said it was a big deal for her to meet Malawsky and he made her feel like part of the team.
“It was crazy,” Chiang said.
It was also her mother, Anna’s, first time at a Warriors game and she said the whole experience was so unique: walking through the tunnels at Rogers Arena, catching a glimpse of the players, meeting Malawsky and taking part in all aspects of a live game.
“Connie got to meet the head coach and it’s such a big deal for her and for us as well,” Anna shared. “When we walked down the tunnel we were so excited, everything is so new to us. It was such a great experience, and we really appreciated the opportunity.”