Torch stop honours those behind athletes

The arrival of the Canada Winter Games Torch was a chance to honour the communities and volunteers that support each athlete.

It was the first time the torch has made a journey across the country. It stopped in Humboldt Nov. 7 as it makes it way to the Canada Winter Games site in Red Deer, Alta.

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“We think back in our lives, think back to the paths each of us has followed, there has been somebody who has ignited us on that path,” said Al Ferchuk, a member of the games’ board of directors.

For Rob Muench, Humboldt’s mayor, who came to mind was Elgar Petersen.

“Even though Elgar never really played sports, his passion and enthusiasm for sports exemplifies what it means to be a volunteer,” he said. “It’s only fitting that we celebrate Elgar’s love for sports here today and the spirit of sport with the Canada Games torch.”

For David Patterson, the president and CEO of the games, the answer was different. For him, it was Leroy Haugen, the father of former Humboldt Broncos coach Darcy Haugen.

“We had parents who supported us and both Darcy and I had Leroy Haugen,” he said.

Leroy was Patterson’s baseball coach. To this day, he still remembers the expression that Leroy would wear when he wanted his team to get serious.

“Get serious didn’t mean stop having fun – and like any good lesson takes a while to sink in,” he said. “The lesson was get serious about having fun, get serious about being a teammate, get serious about taking care of each other. It also probably meant, ‘stop screwing around, you guys.’”

The coach would also make a point to his team that effort should be put into making the game safe for both teams playing.

Leroy said he was humbled by Patterson’s comments.

“The little boy I didn’t know I had an impact on 35 years ago just being his coach, being there for him, for him to remember me so many years later, it is a lesson,” he said. “We forget all of the things we do for others, but what we do for others eventually comes around.”

Patterson also talked about growing up with Darcy.

“What Darcy did for me as a friend – and what I still remember Darcy did – was Darcy was the guy, even at 11 years old, who made sure that when we put the sticks in the middle, that the teams were even,” he said. “Darcy was the guy who made sure the kid who couldn’t skate got the puck every now and then. It was more fun for Darcy when it was more fun from everyone else.”

There will be 3,000 athletes competing at the games, held from Feb. 15 until March 3, 2019.

“In Red Deer, we’ll have 700 hometowns represented across the country and in every one of those hometowns, there’s a Leroy Haugan, an Elgar Petersen,” Patterson said. “There are people who make sport happen, who make community happen.”


Video: Nathan Oystrick, the Humboldt Broncos' coach, welcomes the torch to Humboldt. Just before he started to speak, he was told that Brett Kissel promised a Broncos win during his concert in Humboldt.

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