While growing up in Saint-Félicien, Quebec, Charles Tremblay was never the quietest student in the classroom.
Today however, the roles are reversed, as the Phoenix forward is the sponsor of a class of fifth and sixth graders from an elementary school in St-Isidore-de-Clifton, a borough just outside of Sherbrooke.
Tremblay serves as more than just a role model to all these kids, he’s also a mentor.
“I try to be a positive role model for them. I don’t want to just inspire them; I want to help them directly and make a difference in their lives.”
To do so, Tremblay has put a plan in place that has allowed him to stay in touch with the students, despite the challenging times during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I meet with them every week, depending on my schedule. The past few months, we have been using Zoom calls to catch up. I would much rather meet them in person, but it’s hard these days”, he explains.
“I always take the time to chat with them. They will tell me all about their weekend and stuff like that”, adds the 20-year-old with a laugh. “Quite often, I give them a little physical education class. I can also help them in English and Math.”
While he’s been fortunate enough to spend some time on screen with the students, the right winger says he can’t wait to see his group in person.
“I have not had the chance to meet them once so far, but it’s only a matter of time”, promises the group’s sponsor. “Even on the screen, I can see their enthusiasm and their joy when I talk to them. Just the other day they were so happy to tell me they had watched my game and also the Montreal Canadiens game.”
Tremblay admits he’s perfectly aware of the importance these meetings can have in the lives of all these young students.
“As hockey players, we are obviously role models for these kids. It’s something really special to me”, he admits. “And on their part, I think they really appreciate that direct contact with me on a regular basis. I often spend more than an hour with them.”
Charles Tremblay is usually met with a flurry of questions when his face shows up on screen. The kid’s curiosity is almost never-ending, but he plays along, always with a smile on his face.
“They want to know more about my personal journey, about my everyday life, my goals, my dreams and all that. They want to know everything about me”, says the veteran. “I know that many of them, boys and girls, are passionate about hockey. The Sherbrooke Phoenix, it’s like the NHL for them.”
Personal experiences have allowed Tremblay to cherish that intimate contact he has with his group every week.
“When I was young, I was a little troublemaker in my class in my hometown of Saint-Félicien. I always had a lot of energy”, recalls Tremblay. “I remember when we had the chance to meet the players from the local Midget BB team. I saw those guys as my heroes. They were my idols and I looked up to them.”
Fortunately, as years passed, Tremblay quickly understood the importance of having a solid education. Nowadays, he’s a business student at Montreal’s Concordia University.
“Growing up, my dad always told me that I’d always be a student-athlete, not the other way around. The student should always come first, because so few hockey players make it to the pros. That’s the type of message I want to share with my students.”
Regardless of what life has in store for him, Charles Tremblay says he will always be involved in his community.
“I would love to get involved in minor hockey one day. I’d love to give something back to the kids in my community, that would really be awesome!”