'Legends are made every day and you could be one of the greats. We're going to do whatever it takes to get the win.'
A 6-year-old hockey fan from Ontario has become an international star after giving a rousing pre-game speech to his favorite hockey team. Young Callan Perks—or Coach Cal as he has come to be known since his impressive speech late last month—won the opportunity to address OHL team Peterborough Petes after taking part in the team's Next Gen contest. Speaking to CTV News Toronto, the youngster revealed that when his mom told him about the chance to audition for the event, he just "had to win" the chance to sign the single-day contract to shadow the Petes head coach for a day and experience what it's like to be part of a professional hockey league.
According to The Peterborough Examiner, to stand a chance to win the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, applicants were asked to submit a video of their short pregame speech. Cal's video quickly gained attention on social media after it was posted online by the Petes ahead of the big day. Having racked up more than 55,000 views in just a few days, the avid hockey fan was soon selected as head coach for the Next Gen game. On the day of the event, since the Petes head coach Rob Wilson was away at the Capital City Challenge in Ottawa, the Petes let Cal give his speech in person to the players.
Cuteness alert 😍— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) November 25, 2021
Take a look at this adorable submission from Coach Cal for our Next Gen game this Sunday! You have until 11:59 pm tonight to submit your videos for positions including GMs, three coaches, PA announcers, and scouts!
APPLY NOW >> https://t.co/o8RUTMBvRD pic.twitter.com/mvJTicOV8B
Dressed to impress in a suit and tie, Callan—who admits he was slightly nervous—entered the dressing room to give his now-viral speech to his hockey idols. "Hi, this is my speech for tonight," Callan starts off by saying. "Here we go. Legends are made every day and you could be one of the greats. We're going to do whatever it takes to get the win. Get in there. That's your puck... We won't let those 67’s get a win in our barn... Let's go!" Once he'd introduced the starting lineup, the players cheered Coach Cal's rousing words with an explosive round of applause.
"I've loved hockey since I was young, so this was a dream come true," Callan said. "When they were looking at me, I was just so excited to be giving them a speech and be in that room." A video of the youngster's Next Gen game speech—and the players' reaction—has also gone viral on social media in the days since, scoring Callan interviews with a number of international television and radio networks. "To get to see J.R. Avon, Tucker Robertson, Joe Carroll, Mason McTavish, it just felt so good to get in that dressing room and give them the speech. I really think it got them pumped up," he said. The Petes beat the Ottawa 67's 3-2.
"I couldn't believe that one speech could become this famous," added Cal, a Grade 2 pupil at Lakefield District Public School. "I saw myself on TV. I just couldn’t believe I could do that." Speaking of her son's sudden rise to fame, Lara Perks—Cal's mother along with her partner Krystal—said: "It's been a bit crazy, I'll be honest. Trying to schedule it around his own hockey and school and he has a twin sister Ella with her own activities. He's a pretty down-to-earth kid so if he gets an opportunity to talk about hockey and his experience he’s pretty excited about it. He doesn't quite grasp that it's 'Good Morning America' and how big that is."
Meanwhile, Callan's days in professional hockey are far from over. "I want to be in the NHL, but when I'm 45, I want to be a coach or a general manager. So I will stick with hockey for my whole life," the youngster said. Following the overwhelmingly positive response to Callan's speech, the Petes announced that they are selling "Coach Cal" T-shirts in support of the Canadian Cancer Society through the 2022 Pink in the Rink campaign. Designed by Kyle McDonald of Pioneer Inc., the locally made shirt features a custom design of the hockey community's favorite pint-sized coach and some of his phrases from the legendary speech: "legends are made every day, you could be one of the greats" and "we are going to do whatever it takes to get the W."
In celebration of the hockey community’s support for Petes Next Gen Head Coach Callan Perks, exclusive Coach Cal shirts are now available for sale in support of the— Pete Dalliday (@petedalliday) December 1, 2021
Canadian Cancer Society
through the 2022 Pink in the Rink campaign #CoachCal pic.twitter.com/f6X8FAwZn7