When they were on the ice representing their country it was all about scoring goals, but when they get on the green it’s less about winning games, and more about giving back.
That’s why 27 former players who wore red and white, including Sheldon Kennedy (Brandon, Man.) and Mike Moller (Red Deer, Alta.), came out to the third annual Team Canada Alumni Association Charity Golf Tournament, held Tuesday, Sept. 18 at Lakeside Greens Golf Course and Country Club in Chestermere, Alta. They joined 108 other golfers on the course for a sunny day full of fun – and fundraising – to score more than $25,000 to support grassroots and high performance hockey programs across the country.
“Being alumni, many people came out and supported us for a lot of years, and we’re in a position that we’re able to give back,” Kennedy said. “We’re able to generate funds by showing up and having fun at a golf tournament, so I think it’s important and crucial that we do that.”
Kennedy played with Canada’s National Junior Team in the late 1980s, and played alongside representatives from accounting firm KPMG on the course this September. He was also an inspiring post-dinner speaker for fellow alumni and other guests in attendance at this year’s Team Canada Alumni Association (TCAA) Charity Golf Tournament.
“The greatest part of these days is being able to see where guys are at, and meeting new people,” Kennedy said of attending alumni events. “It’s a great way to connect.”
Kennedy admitted he has more skills with a stick than with a club, stating straightforwardly that “if I was a golfer, I’d go broke.” Nevertheless, he and his four KPMG team members kept themselves quite entertained on the Chestermere course.
“Mike O’Neil actually hit a drive off and it bounced off a roof and through a house window, so that made for an interesting last hole of the day,” he said with a light-hearted laugh of the KPMG senior advisor. “The guy was waiting outside, and he was really nice about it, he was like, ‘Yep, this is the eighth window that’s broken this year.’ ”
All laughs about golfing fumbles and foibles aside, Kennedy takes his position as a Team Canada alumnus seriously, which is why he’s always willing to take part in fantasy hockey games and charity golf tournaments to help raise money for the Hockey Canada Foundation. “I’m just very proud to be a part of it.”
Moller agreed that being a TCAA member provides “a sense of pride, without a doubt.”
“When you get a chance to put the maple leaf, that crest on your jersey, and pull it over your head and shoulders and wear it and represent your country, it’s a great thing,” said the former member of Canada’s National Junior Team and Canada’s National Men’s Team.
Moller, who teamed up with Hockey Alberta representatives for this year’s tournament, also agreed that that while hockey players are competitive in the rink, getting out on the green gives is more about bonding with old teammates – and sometimes even opponents – over the sport they all love.
“It’s a great way to kind of reconnect and see some guys, and do it in a social atmosphere,” he said.“There’s a friend of mine that I kind of knocked heads against playing junior hockey, all the way up, by the name of Ray Cote (Pincher Creek, Alta.). He played with Calgary in the Western Hockey League and I played with Lethbridge, and then we got together with the National Men’s Team … so it’s really kind of neat to run into him.”
Moller said knowing others are getting to live that same Team Canada dream, and that players of all ages and skill levels are getting to lace up their skates because of the Hockey Canada Foundation, is more than enough motivation to dust the cobwebs of the clubs and get involved with the alumni association.
“That golf day, I got out of it way more than I put into it, and I think that’s probably the biggest thing,” he said. “Try to participate as much as possible, and by doing so, you can make a difference in a positive way.”