The elements were not in our favour. But that didn’t stop anyone from playing hard and having fun.
It was rainy, windy, and cold. It took me forever to get there, driving from one side of the Lower Mainland to the other. It had all the ingredients to be a long, miserable day. But my day spent volunteering for Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer was one of the most entertaining and fulfilling experiences I have ever had.
When I first heard about Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, I was eager to sign up as fast as possible. I’ve already written about why I chose to volunteer for Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer. Truthfully, I don’t do enough volunteering in my life and I was long overdue to pay it forward, as it were. I was lucky enough to be selected as a Game Pad Volunteer, which allowed me to get close to the action, not only to watch the games but to keep the games running consistently and smoothly.
Although I didn’t need any additional emotional incentive to be there, the day was kicked off with some amazing and inspirational speeches. I suppose my body was kept warm all day because my heart was warmed from the very start. The next step was to get myself set up with volunteering assignment for the day. The entire RHCC crew, every single person I met, was incredibly helpful and supportive and eager to help out in any way they could. I got my orders, did a tour of the grounds to find out where everything was, and was good to go. Out I went in to the rain and wind and cold to Pad #10, my station for the day. Dressed in about 80 layers and draped in an ultra-flattering rain slicker, I was ready to do my part.
For the most part, everyone was playing in the right spirit, in spite of the conditions. They were playing hard, but the games were fair and respectful. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces. And there was a ton of fun, entertaining hockey. But there was a game or two where the players were taking things way too seriously (and it was pretty obvious that it was only one team in particular). However, the refs with whom I worked, Frank and Scotty, deftly kept everything and everyone under control. Afterward, cooler heads prevailed, apologies were offered and the players did what any good Canadian hockey player would do after a skirmish – they laughed it off over a few beers.
The celebrities that were playing weren’t taking a day off, either. They weren’t using this as just another photo op. They were right in there, playing hard, getting soaked, sweating up a storm. In fact, just like some of the players, some of the celebrities were also taking things a little too seriously at times. In the end, their support was all that mattered and there was plenty of celebrity support to go around.
By the end of the day, even though the rain had finally stopped, I was drenched and tired. The players were even more drenched and even more tired. But I felt good. It felt good to have done something to help. It felt good to know you were a part of something big. It felt good to know that there were so many others joined together to do good. Most importantly, because everything was so well run, and because everyone was so gracious and enthusiastic, it made the day so easy. While it would have been very easy for everyone involved to throw in the towel for the day, the Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer organizers made it impossible to give up and walk away. There were too many smiles, too many good stories and too many great hockey games to be anywhere else.