Congratulations to the Yorkton Terriers. They are the brand new winners of the Canadian Junior Hockey League Championship also known as the RBC Cup. They won in overtime against a very game Carleton Place Canadians in a match played in Vernon, BC. This is the first National Championship for the hockey team comprised of players under 18 years of age. I am very proud of this squad for a very selfish and personal reason…I am from Yorkton! Woohoo!
I decided to write about this after a comment I heard on the television broadcast on one of Canada’s Sports Networks (can’t remember which one and doesn’t matter). Apparently, the more famous person from Yorkton is Jarret Stoll. He is a star player with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL who two years ago won the Stanley Cup. We were actually at our cottage 45 minutes north of Yorkton when they had “Jarret Stoll Day”. If you didn’t know, every player on the winning team gets to spend a couple of days with the Stanley Cup. I love that! Stoll brought it to Yorkton and there was a parade and a dinner and a dance and all kinds of photo-ops including one of my favourites with Stoll and the Cup beside the “Welcome To Yorkton” sign. It just so happens that Jarret was more than just a predictable fan of the Terriers, he played with the AAA Bantam version as a developing player a few years back and, he apparently payed for the pre-game meals for every game the 2014 version of the Terriers played at the tournament that saw them come out on top. Cool! But my favourite thing is what he said. Ready for the cheese? “You can take the boy out of Yorkton but you can’t take Yorkton out of the boy”! Okay, pretty bad but what he added is what I really liked. He credited the town’s personality for providing the perfect place to develop both as a player and a person and while that isn’t very original either, I can confirm what he believes.
I get so much attention for what I have overcome and being born without arms, I can’t argue that I have accomplished a great deal. I did a bunch, but clearly, without my parents, there would be a different Alvin. Jack and Hilda Law were special to me and special to a ton of people but they didn’t think of themselves that way. Typical humility. But what I think made them so great was they were never too busy for Yorkton. Imagine this?
In case you weren’t aware, my parents weren’t my first family. I was born to a very young farm family of four who simply couldn’t cope with the harsh reality of an armless baby and while that may be unacceptable or harsh today, in 1960, it was understood. I have said many, many times that I was never surprised to be given up for adoption. What surprised me was someone would actually take me home. To add to the incredible, Hilda was 55 and Jack was 53 years old when they took me home as a foster child at three weeks of age. Without getting bogged down in the details, let’s just assume the obvious; a baby without arms would be a tad high maintenance, right? Absolutely. But here is my first point. Hilda was not alone. If you are thinking of Jack’s help, you’d be sort of right but remember, this was 1960 and Dad’s were different than today. Not good or bad…different. Dad definitely had a huge influence on me but he wasn’t exactly diving in at diaper time! Even with a newborn, Hilda didn’t bar the windows and doors and hide. I went everywhere with her and I mean “everywhere”.
Mom was a volunteer at the Legion Hall, United Church Hall, and countless other groups. She was in the women’s bowling league, curling league, golf club, bridge club and later on, Band Boosters! One of the bothersome facts about thousands of “Thalidomide Babies” was their mothers were so depressed and confused, they never left their homes. They were also embarrassed! I am not judging them. I am amazed by my Mom but more to the point, I am so amazed by those women at all those gatherings who helped raise me! Clearly, not everyone thought my parents made a logical choice taking me home. Even my own brothers, my parent’s natural children, thought Mom and Dad were nuts. But wherever we went, Mom had support.
But to me, here’s the kicker! My parents were so proud of me! That made me proud of me. Then add all these amazing acquaintances and close friends of Jack and Hilda Law who frankly, spoiled me rotten, and you have the most amazing environment for the growth of yours truly and it seems I am not alone.
I am painfully aware that not everyone loved or love Yorkton, as aware I am that there are “Yorkton’s” everywhere and I admit my bias but this is why I write these pieces. I am so tired of hearing that today’s parents are so “busy” they don’t have time to volunteer in their communities. Why Not? I am sorry but nothing has changed. I know I sound old school but please remember I also raised a child not too long ago and I am far from perfect but I have a very important question.
Without being judgemental here, are you raising your kids to simply show off your product or are you raising them to make their communities and the world better? Obviously, this started being about a hockey team and I would be an idiot if I wasn’t aware that every player on the Yorkton Terriers has their own personal goals and dreams and who knows, maybe one day, another “Jarret Stoll” will return to Yorkton with his own celebration of a Stanley Cup and reflect on what winning a National Championship did for his life. What is most important is that today, a team of young hockey players and coaches are celebrating being the best Junior Hockey Team in Canada and a little city named Yorkton is bursting with pride that “their boys” won the big one.
Thank You to the place where I grew up for what you gave me but more important, for what I have been able to give back to my world. A lesson I learned in a place that will always be “Home”. I guess you are right Mr. Stoll. You can take the boy out of Yorkton but you can never take Yorkton out of the boy!