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For the love of the game, and his brother
Minor hockey “fan swarm” shows true meaning of the game
Tim MacDonald
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December 4, 2013
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Kale Crisp thought Nov. 16 was just going to be another Saturday night practice. But for Kale and his 13 teammates, it turned into an evening they won’t soon forget.

But first, a little background. Kale and Tommy Crisp are brothers, they both love hockey, and play the game whenever they can.

Tommy is 12 years old and plays Peewee hockey in Calgary, and Kale, 9, is his biggest fan.

Kale never misses one of Tommy’s games. He cheers as loud as he can, and knows all the players by name. He is a fixture around the rink.

“Well, he’s pretty loud, so he’s kind of noticeable,” Tommy said of his little brother. “And he just really likes doing it.”

But Tommy isn’t the only hockey player in the family, Kale is as well. Kale, though, sees and plays hockey a little differently than Tommy.

Kale has cerebral palsy, a chronic condition affecting body movements and muscle coordination. But he has found a way to continue to play the sport he passionately loves: sledge hockey.

Kale is a member of the Venom, Calgary’s only Novice sledge hockey team. They practice all season for one year-end tournament, rarely getting the chance to compete against other players, and often playing in front of friends and family only.

So it was time to change that.

At a team party in early November, D’Arcy Sullivan, the manager of Tommy’s Bow Valley Minor Hockey Association team, came up with the idea of doing a “fan swarm” at a Venom practice.

Sullivan took the reins on the event, and everything else started falling into place. More teams heard about it and wanted to be a part of it, and a video crew from the Bow Valley MHA also took part.

“(I remember) just watching him cheering, banging on the glass, and how excited and exuberant he was,” Sullivan said of his memories of first meeting Kale. “So watching Kale and thinking of that, I wanted to provide something for the kids to give back. And this is a way of giving back.”

Despite a bitterly cold November night, more than 100 people stormed Stew Hendry Arena during the Venom practice with noise makers of all kinds, and cheered at the top of their lungs.

The looks on the faces of the players on the ice were priceless. Most were shocked, but soon enough they all wore big smiles.

“I was just like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know about this,’ ” Kale said. His brother kept the surprise perfectly, even telling Kale he wouldn’t be at practice because he wasn’t feeling well.

With the fans behind them, the Venom continued with practice, capped by a Black-White intrasquad game.

The game was a defensive one, with back-and-forth action. When the final buzzer sounded, it was Kale and Team Black coming out on top with a 1-0 win.

“I think I played great,” Kale said after the game. “One of our new players had never scored a goal before this game and she scored.” 

But the night wasn’t about games, goals, wins or losses. It was about Kale’s team, and its passion for hockey.

The night didn’t end with practice, though. Kale and his teammates were surprised when they got back to their dressing room to find hockey posters plastered everywhere, and each player had a Team Canada namebar.

Trish Crisp, Tommy and Kale’s mother, could not have been happier at how the night went for her sons, and for the Venom.

“It was great to see Tommy really get behind this event and really come out and support his little brother.” Trish said. “His little brother has been supporting him in his sports for years by cheering him on, and Tommy’s enthusiasm was really, really inspiring.”

Indeed, there was no shortage of inspiration, with players supporting players, regardless of age or ability.

Trish Crisp put it best, saying the experience “showed the true meaning of sport and that happiness and feeling of community.”

Kale Crisp thought Nov. 16 was just going to be another Saturday night practice. But for Kale and his 13 teammates, it turned into an evening they won’t soon forget.

But first, a little background. Kale and Tommy Crisp are brothers, they both love hockey, and play the game whenever they can.

Tommy is 12 years old and plays Peewee hockey in Calgary, and Kale, 9, is his biggest fan.

Kale never misses one of Tommy’s games. He cheers as loud as he can, and knows all the players by name. He is a fixture around the rink.

“Well, he’s pretty loud, so he’s kind of noticeable,” Tommy said of his little brother. “And he just really likes doing it.”

But Tommy isn’t the only hockey player in the family, Kale is as well. Kale, though, sees and plays hockey a little differently than Tommy.

Kale has cerebral palsy, a chronic condition affecting body movements and muscle coordination. But he has found a way to continue to play the sport he passionately loves: sledge hockey.

Kale is a member of the Venom, Calgary’s only Novice sledge hockey team. They practice all season for one year-end tournament, rarely getting the chance to compete against other players, and often playing in front of friends and family only.

So it was time to change that.

At a team party in early November, D’Arcy Sullivan, the manager of Tommy’s Bow Valley Minor Hockey Association team, came up with the idea of doing a “fan swarm” at a Venom practice.

Sullivan took the reins on the event, and everything else started falling into place. More teams heard about it and wanted to be a part of it, and a video crew from the Bow Valley MHA also took part.

“(I remember) just watching him cheering, banging on the glass, and how excited and exuberant he was,” Sullivan said of his memories of first meeting Kale. “So watching Kale and thinking of that, I wanted to provide something for the kids to give back. And this is a way of giving back.”

Despite a bitterly cold November night, more than 100 people stormed Stew Hendry Arena during the Venom practice with noise makers of all kinds, and cheered at the top of their lungs.

The looks on the faces of the players on the ice were priceless. Most were shocked, but soon enough they all wore big smiles.

“I was just like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know about this,’ ” Kale said. His brother kept the surprise perfectly, even telling Kale he wouldn’t be at practice because he wasn’t feeling well.

With the fans behind them, the Venom continued with practice, capped by a Black-White intrasquad game.

The game was a defensive one, with back-and-forth action. When the final buzzer sounded, it was Kale and Team Black coming out on top with a 1-0 win.

“I think I played great,” Kale said after the game. “One of our new players had never scored a goal before this game and she scored.” 

But the night wasn’t about games, goals, wins or losses. It was about Kale’s team, and its passion for hockey.

The night didn’t end with practice, though. Kale and his teammates were surprised when they got back to their dressing room to find hockey posters plastered everywhere, and each player had a Team Canada namebar.

Trish Crisp, Tommy and Kale’s mother, could not have been happier at how the night went for her sons, and for the Venom.

“It was great to see Tommy really get behind this event and really come out and support his little brother.” Trish said. “His little brother has been supporting him in his sports for years by cheering him on, and Tommy’s enthusiasm was really, really inspiring.”

Indeed, there was no shortage of inspiration, with players supporting players, regardless of age or ability.

Trish Crisp put it best, saying the experience “showed the true meaning of sport and that happiness and feeling of community.”


For more information:

André Brin
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557
abrin@hockeycanada.ca

Francis Dupont
Manager, Media Relations/Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4564
fdupont@hockeycanada.ca

Keegan Goodrich
Coordinator, Media
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
kgoodrich@hockeycanada.ca

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twitter.com/hockeycanada

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