New memorial scholarship helps student-athletes fulfill potential

Tim Callaghan Memorial Hockey Scholarship encourages leadership on and off the ice
Tim Callaghan, affectionately known by friends as 'Cally.'
Tim Callaghan was affectionately known by friends as 'Cally.' Photo courtesy Ethan Bomhof.

Spectators at the Sept. 29 MRU Cougars men’s hockey game were treated to a scene that could have been taken straight from a big-screen sports movie.

Fifth-year defenseman and recently named Cougars captain Connor Blake had a banner night, scoring a game-winning goal in overtime to lead the Cougars to victory over the University of Regina. The night was made even more special by a gift from a past captain to the present, which helped propel the health and physical education student to excel both on and off the ice. The Tim Callaghan Memorial Hockey Scholarship was awarded for the first time, with Blake as its inaugural recipient, and on-ice magic would then happen.

Meaningful gift commemorates MRU men’s hockey alumnus

The world of sports often serves as a platform for unity, camaraderie and the pursuit of excellence. Tim Callaghan, affectionately known by friends as ‘Cally,’ exemplified these attributes as a lifelong hockey player, with his leadership and character leaving a lasting impact on those he knew.

Born and raised in Lethbridge, Tim began playing hockey at the age of eight, proving himself a skilled player when it came to ice hockey and inline hockey alike. He captained several teams throughout his junior career, playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and later as a student-athlete at Mount Royal, where he captained the Cougars men’s hockey team for two seasons before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts — Criminal Justice in 2009. He would later parlay the leadership skills he developed as an athlete into a career with the Calgary Police Service, District 6, where his sharp shooting (this time for marksmanship) again earned recognition during training when he was awarded the Jim DeWitte Award of Excellence in Firearms.

After Tim passed away in September of 2021, his family generously started the Tim Callaghan Memorial Hockey Scholarship, which is awarded to a Cougars' men's hockey player who shows dedication to academics and demonstrates outstanding leadership and character through their commitment to the team.

Tim is described as not just a skilled player, but also a mentor and friend to those around him. The scholarship was founded with the intention of supporting young and aspiring hockey players who exemplify the qualities that defined Tim’s life — passion for the sport, dedication and a commitment to community. It is a celebration of his spirit and an encouragement for the recipients to carry forward his legacy of sportsmanship, leadership and resilience.

Memorial scholarship awarded for first time this year

On Sept. 29, the Callaghan family attended the Cougars’ men’s hockey game for a pregame ceremonial puck drop with Blake and others to mark the gift.

“Being the first recipient of the Tim Callaghan Scholarship was a great honour. It is extremely generous of Tim's family to create a scholarship for the men's hockey program in honour of him and an amazing way to recognize what a great impact he had at Mount Royal and in the community,” Blake says.

“Meeting the family prior to the game was very important to me. It was emotional, but I'm grateful that I got the opportunity with the Callaghan family and their friends. Seeing the emotion pour out of all of them gave me extra motivation for the game. I was playing for something bigger than hockey. I was playing to honour Tim Callaghan.”

On Sept. 29, the Callaghan family attended the Cougars’ men’s hockey game for a pregame ceremonial puck drop with Connor Blake and others to mark the gift.
On Sept. 29, the Callaghan family attended the Cougars’ men’s hockey game for a pregame ceremonial puck drop with Connor Blake and others to mark the gift. Photo courtesy Ethan Bomhof.

Something remarkable would then happen. It was a hard-fought match that went into overtime, and seemed destined for a shoot out. But in the final moment of OT, Blake would net the winning goal — right in front of the Callaghan family.

“Being able to deliver the winning goal and give their family the puck felt incredible. I'm just glad I was able to make an already special night a little bit more poetic for them,” Blake says.



Bert Gilling, the team’s head coach, says the award’s first recipient is an exemplary choice. “‘Blaker’ — as we all refer to him around the team — is the consummate student-athlete and teammate,” he says.

“Our men’s hockey program has the ‘4-Pillars’ that reflect the team values, standards and expectations. It is our process and not easy to fulfill. Connor checks off every one of those values and has done so since he arrived on our campus. He is exceptional.”

When Tim was a player, many of his coaches would refer to him as the glue that kept the team together.

“It was neat to see the special bond between Connor and the Callaghan family when they met this fall. During Tim’s time with the Cougars he was remembered as a beloved teammate and the heart and soul of the Cougar hockey teams he was a part of — a ‘glue guy’ in hockey terms,” Gilling explains. “That spirit and leadership lives on with Connor and is why we are so proud to have him be the inaugural recipient of the scholarship.”

The Tim Callaghan Memorial Hockey Scholarship is a shining example of how special these gifts can be. They go well beyond the much-appreciated financial support of the student/student-athlete’s journey and become a meaningful shared experience, as has been the case with Connor, the Callaghan family and MRU Cougars hockey in honour of Tim’s memory.