William Veillette is not only an impact player on the ice, but the 18-year-old is also making a big difference in his community.
Every time the Cataractes are looking for volunteers to take part in activities in the Shawinigan community, the forward is always the first to raise his hand.
“Growing up, I always saw QMJHL players as being great role models and it was my dream to get there one day”, he explains. “Today, I realize the importance of giving back to the community and spending some time with kids. It’s something I cherish very much.”
The centerman says he feels blessed and embraces the fact that he gets to serve as a role model for young hockey fans in his area.
“I’m a kid from Lévis, Quebec. Growing up, I admired guys that came from my region like Mathieu Olivier, Antoine Samuel or the Quebec Remparts players. I went to many of their games”, he says. “I think that’s why every time the Cataractes folks need someone to represent them in the community, I’m always one of the first to answer the call!”, adds Veillette with a laugh.
Aside from activities in the community, William Veillette is also involved with various causes and organizations, such as Leucan.
“I got involved with a Leucan fundraiser last year. I wanted to help raise money for a family who had just lost their oldest son to cancer. I thought it was a good idea to help them a little while they were grieving. They also have another son who’s autistic”, he explains.
The family with whom he connected was pained by the loss of their 16-year-old last year. Without hesitating, Veillette helped create a video explaining the challenging times the family went through.
“They also all came to the rink to do the ceremonial puck drop for one of our games. It was very emotional for everybody. We also set up a website in order to keep raising money through social media”, explains the young man currently playing in his second full season in the QMJHL.
Through all that process, Veillette became friends with the youngest son of the Paquette family, Charles-Hugo, an autistic die-hard fan of the Cataractes.
“The great thing in all of this is that I stayed in contact with the kid and his mother. We often write to each other just to stay up to date on how things are going”, says Veillette with a smile. “We have a blast. I think Charles-Hugo really appreciates staying in contact with me. In fact, some people have told me he’s very happy to be able to stay in touch.”
“It’s too bad, but I know a lot of guys in the Q wouldn’t take the time to interact with kids like this. For me however, I think it’s a really important thing to do”, admits Veillette. “If I can bring a little bit of joy to the Paquette family, it makes me extremely happy.”
But the forward’s social contributions do not stop there. Veillette also attends plenty of other activities that allow him to meet the kids from his adoptive community.
“My billet mom from last year is a schoolteacher in a local elementary school. She brought us last year to spend an afternoon with the students. We spoke to them, answered questions and signed some autographs”, recalls the centreman who had taken a few of his teammates along with him.
“You should have seen their eyes when we got there! We could tell that they were really happy to see us”, he remembers. “I thought it was wonderful because, growing up, I never had the chance to rub shoulders with major junior players. I never thought that one day I would be the one having such an impact on these kids!”
Unfortunately, that human contact has become impossible due to the pandemic restrictions in place this season.
“We had many events in the community last year. This season, our daily routine pretty much revolves around our billet home and the rink”, admits Veillette.
“I really miss the connection we had with our fans. I’m a guy who loves to move around and see people. It’s always good to connect with the community you live in and I miss it a lot!”