Photo by Don Fennell
Being a Richmond Sockeye extends well beyond playing hockey. In many ways, it’s a belief manifested in several forms not the least of which is giving back.
That attitude is engrained in the team’s culture, and noticeably practiced and promoted by alumni. Each year they support the current players through such initiatives as an alumni game, a smoker fundraiser and a golf tournament generating funds for a scholarship program. Since it began over a decade ago, more than $236,000 has been awarded to graduating players to assist with the post-secondary studies.
“We feel education is so paramount,” says Doug Paterson, a team owner and president of the Sockeye alumni. “Anything we can do to help our players get to the next level, or get as much education as possible, is important. In my day (he played for the original team in 1972) there wasn’t a lot of us that went on to post-secondary, but today kids have a greater opportunity. If we can give them a little encouragement that’s great.”
The scholarship also aligns with Paterson’s personal philosophy that “in life we need to pull together.”
To help instill that message, Paterson asks each of the current Sockeyes to sell at least 10 tickets to the club’s annual alumni game.
“The more we can do collectively the better the results are,” he says. “When you’ve got a bunch of guys on the same page, and willing to make sacrifices where necessary, you can flourish. It’s not just about developing as a hockey player, but how you turn out as individual after the Sockeyes. I like to think the majority are better human beings for being part of our program. You can’t put a price on that.”