Anti-Bullying Efforts Hit Home for Pack’s Kodie CurranMar 25, 2015
(Photo courtesy of canadawest.org)
Defenseman Kodie Curran has only been with the Wolf Pack since last Wednesday, but the organization has already left a strong personal impression on him with its “Anti-Bullying Night” and “Kindness Campaign” initiatives.
Curran, a 25-year-old native of Calgary, Alta., was a victim of bullying in his younger years, and has selflessly shared that reality with the world via social media. And to him, the fact that an entity like the Wolf Pack would dedicate this kind of energy and attention to the issue of bullying speaks volumes as to how far the world has progressed in dealing with the problem.
“It’s huge,” Curran said after a recent Wolf Pack practice. “I think from when I was younger, times have changed. And I think when you have looked-upon organizations like the Hartford Wolf Pack step up, people look up to that and people notice bullying is a concern in our society, and I think the Wolf Pack have really done a good job to have this resource for kids.”
Most people do not think of bullying as something that happens to big, strong guys like Curran who are star-level athletes, but his experience indicates that it is a sufficiently pervasive phenomenon that it affects all walks of life.
“Bullying’s tough,” Curran said. “Most kids that are doing it don’t even know they’re doing it. For me as a kid, I was the kid that was a little bit weird, who had different hair, and that’s what kids latch on to. And when one kid sees you doing it, another one joins, and it’s a lot easier for kids to join in on the bullying than it is to stand up to it. And when you have resources like we do now, I think that’s what’s going to start to change.”
Thankfully, Curran battled through the bullying that he experienced, and it did not deter him from becoming a successful player, and student, at the University of Calgary. Also, his sense of self-worth was strong enough that bullying did not make him question who he is.
“How I am now is probably not any different,” Curran said. “I’m still that kind of weird, laughable, different guy. I think kids grow up and they mature, but I think we have to be able to do that (be cognizant of bullying) at a younger age and, like the Hartford Wolf Pack has done, have awareness of it now, for the young kids at a young age. I think it’s huge for all the kids that are being bullied.”
It is important too, according to Curran, that outreach and healing be directed at those doing the bullying, as well as those upon whom they are inflicting it.
“If you’re bullying, then it’s coming from an insecurity from somewhere,” Curran said. “And that’s something that some people don’t realize, and don’t necessarily have their eyes open to. Obviously not taking anything away from the kids that are being bullied, I think it’s different grounds, but we should have the resources to reach out both to the bullier and the bullied.”
Curran has used his own experience to attempt to help others stay away from bullying, on both ends of it.
“Back at the University of Calgary we had a ‘Dinos’ (hockey) camp, and those are where you see a lot of bullying, a bunch of kids together, girls and boys playing hockey at a camp all day,” he said. “When you see a kid get bullied, or even a kid that’s bullying, you try and pull him aside and you just kind of make him realize, and at such a young age it’s hard, that it’s not right, and you try and point it out right away, so they don’t do it later on in life and damage someone.”
One might think that the sports world, and particularly the realm of hockey, where toughness and assertiveness are such core values, would be a tough place to share and heal from one’s experiences with bullying, but Curran has found that the exact opposite is true.
“The great thing about sports is, the team you’re on, you’re part of a family, and everyone accepts you for who you are,” he said. “We’ve had a bunch of people in our sports world open up to their personal lives, and everyone accepts who you are. And I think that’s the unique thing about sports, is you’re a tight-knit family, and not just your team, the organization, the other teams around the league, the other players. It’s a very respectful thing.”
When asked what fans, or anyone, can do to help recognize and reduce bullying, Curran responds that simply showing concern and speaking up is the most important thing.
“It’s huge to ask,” is how he put it. “Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. That’s something that kids that get bullied, or even bully, tend to do, they shut off, and they don’t talk to their parents, they don’t talk to others. And for me, a piece of advice would be, be who you are, don’t change. If you’re unaccepted by someone, you’ll be accepted by someone else, and those are probably the ones you’re going to end up loving and trusting.”
Awareness is also a significant key, Curran stresses, and that is where elements like the Wolf Pack’s Anti-Bullying Night and Kindness Campaign can make much more than a symbolic difference.
“Even me being in Calgary, we know who the Hartford Wolf Pack are, and we know the AHL, we know it’s a great league, a great organization,” he said. “So when you have teams like this, and organizations like this, step up, and aware of what’s out there and what’s happening, it’s huge for the kids that need those resources and need help.”