Not many 14-year-olds can say they know what they want to do when they grow up.
Fewer still can say they’re already doing it.
But that’s precisely the position Adam Hutchison finds himself in. The Grade 8 student at Clayburn Middle School is a fixture at Abbotsford Heat games, microphone in hand – covering the local AHL team, shoulder-to-shoulder with the working media.
The youngster’s presence is certainly unique in the world of pro hockey. But he’s hardly intimidated by his surroundings – he fearlessly pipes up with questions at post-game press conferences, and he’s done one-on-one interviews with the likes of Heat players Krys Kolanos and Clay Wilson, team president Ryan Walter, Edmonton Oilers executive Kevin Lowe, and Hockey Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald.
“I’ve kind of gotten used to it now, since I’ve been doing it so much,” Hutchison said, reflecting on his participation at press conferences. “You’ve got to think of a question, and if somebody else takes it, you’ve got to think of another one. You’re thinking up stuff on the spot. But it’s something you love to do, and you just do it.”
Hutchison’s involvement at Heat games is the product of a partnership between the hockey team and the Clayburn Film Club.
The film club is an extra-curricular school group run by digital visual arts teacher Mike Haire. It’s comprised of about 30 students, and they produce a daily newscast that is broadcast live every morning to each classroom at Clayburn.
The film club and the Heat connected for the first time last season. A Clayburn teacher was playing in an intermission game, and he invited Haire and Hutchison to attend and shoot a segment for the middle school news.
They did so, and after posting the video on the film club’s YouTube channel (youtube.com/cmsfilmclub), Derek Beer, a member of the Heat’s front office staff, happened upon the clip. He invited Hutchison to come back and do some Heat coverage, and he attended three more games last season.
This year, Hutchison and Haire applied for full-time press credentials, and they’ve been at nearly every Heat home game. Most nights, they’re accompanied by a rotating cast of camera people.
“They’re doing what real journalists and reporters do, so I try to expose as many kids as possible to it,” Haire explained. “It’s such a cool experience for the kids. It’s so authentic, and that’s the best thing about this.”
On several occasions, Hutchison’s work has been featured on the jumbotron at Heat games – a heady experience for the youngster.
With nearly a year of reporting from pro hockey games under his belt, Hutchison says his dream job is to be a TSN reporter or anchor.
“I’ve seen his confidence get way stronger,” Haire said. “I remember his first game – and he was a lot smaller back then, too. We would stand in the hallway and I would help him come up with a question. Even at the beginning of the season, I would feed him questions.
“But now, I don’t even ask him what he’s going to ask, because I know it’s going to be something pretty good. It’s pretty cool to see how the coach reacts to his questions.”
Heat head coach Troy Ward seems to get a kick out of interacting with Hutchison at press conferences.
“Adam, to me, he’s kind of hockey-wise beyond his years,” Ward said with a chuckle. “I get excited whenever he’s in there (the media room), because he’s got enough sense about what he wants to ask to play off of whatever everybody else asks. He knows his place – he knows that he’s probably going to get one of the last questions, and he still fits in a very applicable question to the game.
“Not to mention his people skills. As a young man, to be able to go in and do that, it says a lot about his family. It’s pretty cool.”
Heat head coach Troy Ward peers over the top of his glasses at Adam Hutchison during a post-game press conference.