Flint Fire Department's Rico Phillips up for NHL award
(04/29/19) -- Honored and humbled. A member of the Flint Fire Department is receiving some national recognition -- not for his work on the job, but his work on the ice.
Quartermaster Rico Phillips is one of three finalists for the NHL's Willie O'ree Community Hero Award, and he needs votes from the public.
It's no secret Phillips pours his heart and soul into the Flint Inner City Youth Hockey league. He brought Hall of Famer Willie O'ree to Flint back in March.
What happened after that, Phillips didn't see coming.
"He pulled my wife to the side and said this is an incredible program. I would like you to nominate him for this award," Phillips said.
Of course she did. The Willie O'ree Community Hero Award is presented to someone who demonstrates good leadership by using hockey to teach character and life skills, something that's right up Phillips' alley.
"My concept was to allow kids from within the city of Flint a unique opportunity to experience ice hockey," he said.
Phillips couldn't have done it when he started the program back in 2010 without the community's support.
"To offer something that's so expensive for free is incredible, all the way down to transportation," he said. "We work with the Mass Transportation Authority and the kids that need transportation get a ride from their house to the arena."
At the arena on the ice, where Phillips' true leadership shines.
"The first lessons we teach them is how to fall down, because it's something we all do in ice hockey," he said. "But my second lesson is how to get back up, so it's actually a lesson in life I'm teaching them that they don't even realize."
Phillips' leadership and dedication to the youth hockey league has not gone unnoticed over the years. Just ask O'ree himself.
"I certainly enjoyed it. he's got a great program going here with the kids," O'ree said back in March.
"I think of all these rewards I've gotten and to receive an award on this level, it would be just something that I carry with me the rest of my life," Phillips said.
Voting is open now until May 5 and everyone can vote once a day until then. Winners will be announced June 19.
To vote, click on the Related Links section on the right side or bottom of this page.