Former Alberni Valley Bulldog Eric Margo will graduate from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. with some hockey honours and great memories. (ROBIN KASEM/Queen’s Gaels)

Former Alberni Valley Bulldog Eric Margo will graduate from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. with some hockey honours and great memories. (ROBIN KASEM/Queen’s Gaels)

Former Alberni Valley Bulldog Eric Margo shows heart on and off ice

Queen’s University Gaels forward blends hockey with humanitarianism

When Eric Margo joined the Queen’s University men’s hockey team in 2016, he never imagined he would become one of the greatest contributors athletically, academically, and in the community of Kingston, Ont.

Coming in, the Applied Economics student and North Vancouver, B.C. native wasn’t a top recruit. He was told he wouldn’t be guaranteed much ice time. The coaching staff were bringing in a slew of talented players, so Margo’s odds were slim. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity.

“If I was going to show up, I was going to try my hardest,” says Margo. “I ended up playing 28 games that year, and was a starter in the USports Men’s National Quarter-Finals, which was an incredibly rewarding accomplishment.”

According to Gaels head coach Brett Gibson, Margo feels he wasn’t a top recruit because he did not play in the Canadian Hockey League prior to Queen’s like the majority of his teammates. Instead, Margo played for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, a Junior ‘A’ team.

Despite this, “he was exactly what we were lacking,” says Gibson. “We targeted a player like him who had a drive that could not be measured on the score sheet at the end of a game.”

Former Alberni Valley head coach Kevin Willison agrees, quoting Margo’s hustle as a factor that enabled him to make an instant impact. “When Eric was given the opportunity to play for Alberni it didn’t take long for him to show how hard he worked each and every shift he was on the ice,” says Willison. “His teammates had respect for him as a person and a player. Every team would want a player who plays with the passion Eric does.”

His hard work paid off, but Margo’s true strength lies in his positivity, selflessness, and desire to make a difference.

One program he is passionate about is Autism Mentorship. Since 2017, this not-for-profit organization has connected young people on the autism spectrum with student-athletes. Through one-on-one meetings, youth are able to interact with new environments, people, and activities aimed at improving their motor and social skills, as well as forging long-lasting and meaningful friendships with their mentee.

Margo has also volunteered with the New Canadian Youth Group, where he and fellow team members provide leadership and guidance to children in Kingston who come from Middle Eastern countries.

“I’m fortunate to be in the position I’m in. It’s important to go out and support others if you have the means to do so,” explains Margo. “The personal relationships I have formed with the youth in Kingston are so special and dear to me.”

At Queen’s, Margo is one of the team liaisons for the Varsity Leadership Council. His role is to act as a point of contact between the Council and the men’s hockey team, rallying players to get involved in community initiatives. “If you have the privilege to represent your school, your sport, or your family, and are looked at as a role model, you should always give back to your community,” explains Gibson. “We do not force this – it is a choice, and Eric steps up every time…other players gravitate to him.”

During his time with the Bulldogs, Margo was part of the “Bulldogs in Schools” program. For four hours a day, two days a week, he provided leadership and support to students at the École Alberni Elementary School. The goal was to positively influence youth through fun activities or individual academic help.

“Eric was always the first to sign up for community appearances. He was easy to talk to and the kids looked up to him,” says Willison. “Other players wanted to be like Eric because he was fun to be around and made others feel comfortable and safe.”

Margo believes “Bulldogs in Schools” was where his passion for programs like Autism Mentorship came from.

“To be a grounding, inspiring figure in someone’s life is truly fulfilling,” he says. “To be considered a role model to someone, and seeing how I can make a difference is truly humbling.”

He’s also inspiring academically, being recognized as an Academic All-Canadian for having over an 80 percent average while playing a varsity sport. Margo also finds the time to be an active member of the Economics department school council at Queen’s, a group that aims to foster camaraderie and provide students with resources to further their education and reach their goals. This year, he acts as the Events Chair, helping to plan social nights and alumni outreach events.

“It was a personal choice to get involved with the council,” explains Margo. “I wanted the opportunity to build a support network outside of athletics and become more involved within the Queen’s community. Having the ability to improve and impact the student experience of other undergraduates was very attractive.”

In January, he was honoured as this year’s recipient of the Douglas Murray Scholarship , established by Murray and Donna Douglas to recognize academic and athletic excellence from a varsity hockey player at Queen’s.

“It was extremely humbling [to win the award],” says Margo. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have past role models and mentors within our organization who have laid the foundation for me to follow. It’s nice to be recognized for how far I’ve come and where I am now.”

The award also acknowledges someone who leads by example, and is a role model for his teammates.

Gaels captain Patrick Sanvido says, “Eric has been the most important leader on this team. He has made my job [as captain] easier, and at times when I’ve been trying to find my way, Eric has stepped up and been the leader this team needs.”

“Eric earned this award by the way he matured and grew over his time at Queen’s,” says Gibson. “He is now mentioned in the same sentence as some of the top people to come through our program.”

In March, Margo was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the BCHL, Vancouver Canucks National Hockey League team and LNG Canada. He was one of seven BCHL alumni to receive a scholarship for the 2019-20 season. Recipients are selected by a BCHL committee and are based on the individual’s academics, hockey and community service.

“Not only are our current players important to us, but so are the young men that graduate from our league and go on to do great things in life, whether it’s hockey or elsewhere,” BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb said. “This scholarship program is an essential part of us recognizing those former players in the league and helping them achieve their education goals.”

The Canucks have been providing scholarships to former BCHL players for the past 33 years.

Despite these successes, it hasn’t always been easy for Margo. Finding the balance between schoolwork, sleep, social life and athletics has been a challenge, as well as fighting a digestive disorder, requiring multiple emergency medical visits and a complete lifestyle change. In addition, Eric is not afraid to speak on his continuous journey establishing self-confidence.

Moreover, at five-foot-nine he’s smaller than most competitors. There is nothing physically imposing about him, but he adapts his game to his smaller size. He’s a playmaker, whose speed and aggression make him a dominant force on the ice.

Willison says, “Eric was not a big player, but was a team player.”

Yet, what is most striking about Margo is his passion and commitment to being a Gael. When asked what being a Gael meant to him, he quotes a standard of responsibility, academics and character – a tripartite he’s elegantly mastered.

“In the men’s hockey program we live by the motto, ‘Karma.’ For us, this is defined as the habits and actions you do when no one is looking, and how those actions will have a direct effect on the outcomes you desire in academics, athletics, and life,” says Gibson. “Eric’s actions off the ice have a direct effect on his breakout season [this year], and it shows current players the path to success.”

“What has been inspirational to me about Eric is how good of a human he is. The example he sets both on and off the ice is something I try to accomplish myself and has pushed me to be a better person,” says Sanvido. “He is the heartbeat of our team.”

After this season Margo will graduate, leaving his career as a varsity athlete behind. When reflecting on his time at Queen’s there are many memories that stand out, such as winning last year’s OUA championship . But what Margo will remember the most isn’t his awards or medals. Instead, it’s his teammates, with whom he spent countless hours on the ice, in the classroom, and in the community.

“I’ll miss the team and the culture we have created,” Margo says. “I’ll never forget the bond we built up over the past four years.”

Margo is uncertain where his future will take him. But if one thing is clear, his impact on the program will continue to be felt, even after he’s gone. His legacy of perseverance, determination, and humility, as well as being a good student and member of the community, will surely not be forgotten.

“Eric is a prime example that if you are willing to grow and be coached, you can develop into something you could never have imagined. Without [him] we would not be in a playoff spot,” says Gibson. “The trust and relationship Eric and I grew over his four years is something I will cherish.”

Julia Ranney is a journalist for the Queen’s Journal and Master’s student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

BCHL, Alberni Valley BulldogsCollege sportsjunior hockeyPort Alberni

 

Eric Margo spent two years playing with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs during his B.C. Hockey League career. He is set to graduate from Queen’s University this year. (PHOTO COURTESY ERIC MARGO)

Eric Margo spent two years playing with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs during his B.C. Hockey League career. He is set to graduate from Queen’s University this year. (PHOTO COURTESY ERIC MARGO)

Eric Margo receives the Douglas Murray Scholarship on Jan. 10, 2020 prior to a Queen’s Gaels university hockey game. The award honours a varsity hockey player at Queen’s University for athletic and academic excellence. (ROBIN KASEM/ Queen’s Gaels)

Eric Margo receives the Douglas Murray Scholarship on Jan. 10, 2020 prior to a Queen’s Gaels university hockey game. The award honours a varsity hockey player at Queen’s University for athletic and academic excellence. (ROBIN KASEM/ Queen’s Gaels)

Just Posted

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van burst into flames just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Kids from a MOSS Sailing Camp sail just off Canal Waterfront Park in Alberni Inlet during a day camp in August 2014. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
MOSS Sailing camps return to Alberni Valley

One-week camps designed for kids will take place at Sproat Lake

Robert Gunn of Alberni Climate Action loads garbage discovered in the Alberni Inlet around Cous Creek into his canoe during a recent ocean shoreline cleanup. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Alberni Climate Action group creates NIC scholarship

Students attending college full time may apply through NIC

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens after accident at Taylor River Flats

Multi-vehicle crash had closed highway to west coast

The Rollin Art Centre is holding children’s art camps this summer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Celebrate art in the garden

Rollin Art Centre will host art event on Saturday, June 26

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read