While the majority of NHL players were enjoying a nearly weeklong break for the All-Star game festivities in Ottawa last weekend, Nick Spaling took the opportunity to give back to his community.
Spaling, a native of Drayton and 2007 draft pick of the Nashville Predators, was in his hometown and at the Dan Snyder Arena in Elmira Jan. 27 to shoot a commercial for the Mennonite Church of Canada.
The commercial is aimed at children growing up within the Mennonite Church, as Spaling did, and to encourage them to chase their dreams and not be held back by their faith or the stigma that surrounds it.
“The purpose is to chip away at some of the stereotypes that are sometimes associated with Mennonites,” said Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada and former pastor of the Community Mennonite Fellowship in Drayton, which Spaling attended as a child.
“Sometimes people will associate Mennonite with a certain ethnicity, a German ethnicity, or oftentimes would assume that all Mennonites are old-order Mennonite with the horse and buggy, so we’re trying to dispel that.”
The shoot consisted of two locations; youth playing ball hockey in the parking lot of Community Mennonite Fellowship, and Spaling playing in a mock NHL game at the Dan Snyder Arena. The scenes will cut between one boy in particular at the ball hockey game (symbolizing Spaling as a youth), and Spaling at the NHL level taking slap shots and body checking opponents into the glass.
“The main focus of it is that you can find Mennonites anywhere and everywhere. The idea is that ‘I’m Nick Spaling. I’m an NHL player, and I’m also a Mennonite,’” explained Metzger.
Metzger has been trying to organize the shoot for nearly a year, but with Spaling’s busy NHL schedule, it has been hard to find the time. Finally, the pair decided they could do it over the NHL All-Star break since Spaling would be returning home to visit family because he couldn’t make it home for Christmas.
The NHLer said he was happy to help the community that had done so much for him growing up.
“Being a part of the Mennonite Church, when this opportunity came up I thought it was a great way to get the church’s message out there and to get that point across,” said Spaling after the shoot at the WMC.
“It’s a new and evolving way of looking at things, instead of your typical Mennonite that a lot of people think of these days.”
The commercial is just the first in a series that the Mennonite Church hopes to film, and Metzger said they have arranged to film a member of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as ordinary business people and entrepreneurs to give the commercials a well-rounded mix of high-profile professionals as well as the everyday person.
Metzger said he was unsure when the commercial might hit the airwaves, but hoped it could coincide with the Predators’ playoff push in early spring.