Trojans to help old pal Kerr and media friends stage kids’ charity hockey camp at SAIT
August 23, 2012
CALGARY — Apparently, you can take the broadcaster away from the Trojans, but you can’t take the Trojan out of the broadcaster.
Sixteen years after working as the manager and publicist for the SAIT Trojans men’s hockey team during the 1996-97 season, veteran broadcaster Rob Kerr — the television play-by-play voice of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames — has organized a charity hockey camp for underprivileged youth this weekend at SAIT Polytechnic.
With the help of numerous members of Calgary’s sports media, support from the Trojans men’s hockey program, and facilities offered by the SAIT Trojans athletics department, the CTRL-F (Calgary Teamwork-Respect-Leadership-Fun) Hockey Camp will set up shop at SAIT’s Campus Centre on Saturday, Aug. 25 and Sunday, Aug. 26.
All told, 60 minor hockey players from Calgary will participate in the camp — 40 from the EvenStrength Program, a partnership between the Flames Foundation for Life, Hockey Calgary, and KidSport; and 20 more from the Calgary chapter of HEROS (Hockey Education Reaching Out Society).
“When I was with SAIT, (Trojans athletics director and veteran men’s hockey head coach) Ken Babey was all about community involvement, hockey schools and camps, bringing kids to games, things like that,” says Kerr, who’s about to enter his second season as the Calgary Flames’ play-by-play announcer on Rogers Sportsnet television broadcasts. “Even back then, it was a hallmark of the Trojans program.
“In recent years, I’d read about a charitable event put on by reporters who covered city hall in New York — a Christmas pageant with a hot lunch at a Broadway theatre. And after talking to some people in minor hockey, I saw a need here in Calgary for a camp serving non-elite players who can’t afford a summer hockey school,” adds Kerr. “Really, it’s what I felt I had to do.”
About 15 members of Calgary’s sports media, from the ranks of TV, radio, newspapers, and online, have volunteered for the CTRL-F Hockey Camp as instructors and group leaders.
Kevin Bathurst of Hockey Canada will be the primary on-ice coach at the SAIT Arena, while Kerr — formerly the host of Flames radio broadcasts on Sportsnet Radio FAN 960 — has developed classroom sessions on teamwork, leadership, and respect.
The SAIT Trojans athletic department, through Babey, has offered SAIT Campus Centre facilities, including SAIT Arena ice rental, locker-rooms, classrooms, and use of the Campus Centre gym.
Trojans associate coach Jim McLean will be a presenter, while four members of the Trojans men’s hockey team — forward Garrett Watson (4th year, Calgary, bachelor of business administration accounting, BCHL Westside), forward Brad Drobot (3rd year, Calgary, business administration, AJHL Calgary Royals), defenceman Joe Babey (3rd year, Calgary, architectural technologies, AJHL Drayton Valley), and forward Travis Bradshaw (4th year, Calgary, business administration, AJHL Calgary Royals) — will help out as camp leaders during weekend gym activities.
“It’s driven by Rob and his associates in the sports media, but it’s a no-brainer from our perspective, and we’re happy to help out,” says Babey. “It’s a natural part of what we believe in. What really intrigued me was the concept of using hockey as a catalyst to teach life skills.”
Offers Kerr: “The CTRL-F camp wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for the generosity of Ken Babey and SAIT athletics, who have gone above and beyond to give this hockey camp for Calgary kids a home.”
After on-ice, classroom, and gym sessions through the weekend, Sunday afternoon will feature the culmination of the two-day CTRL-F Hockey Camp — a “pro game” experience in the SAIT Arena at 1 p.m., complete with music, announcers, and a big-screen broadcast courtesy of Trojans Productions.
“These kids deserve to believe in themselves. In the HEROS program, we focus on building the kids up to the point where they can finish high school and think about vocational and educational dreams,” says Kevin Hodgson, who manages the Calgary chapter of HEROS, a Canada-wide charitable organization that empowers kids through hockey.
“This is not just a hockey camp; it’s really a life-skills camp. So many hockey schools are geared toward elite players; these are house-league players who play for enjoyment.
“We did an event recently at SAIT, with a lot of our kids on campus. By the time we left, those kids started believing they could think about college. Prior to that, they thought it was something other kids got to do,” adds Hodgson. “This is going to be a weekend the kids won’t forget, for sure.”
The EvenStrength Program, operated through Hockey Calgary and funded by the Flames Foundation for Life, provides financial assistance for families whose kids would not otherwise be able to play hockey.
“Rob’s done a really good job of giving this weekend’s camp a proper balance — making sure there’s a lot of leadership and mentorship,” says Candice Goudie, executive director of the Flames Foundation for Life. “Really, it’s about sport in life, rather than just about hockey.”