The Fernie Ghostrider Champions

In my mind, an Unsung Hero is defined by unwavering dedication, humility or kindness. And, since taking over the researching and writing of this monthly article that highlights such an individual, from someone who encompasses all three, it was tricky to know where to start.

This month’s collection of heroes is very special to many people’s hearts in our town, not least the Fernie Ghostriders themselves. And, as they primarily take care of our adored hockey team, perhaps we should in fact too call them a ‘team’. Upon meeting them, their teamwork and camaraderie was apparent from the outset – becoming instantly clear that no individual is more special or more valued than another. They are quite simply a collection of ‘heroes’ that Fernie simply can’t do without.

Friday night, home game, 6.30pm at the Fernie Arena and as the first few enthusiastic spectators start to dribble in, the Ghostrider volunteers are doing their thing like they do every single home game. Watching them, you know they know their stuff. Whether selling tickets, stamping hands, setting up merchandise, running security, organizing bingo (which by the way runs year round, every Monday and as a result pays for ice time – an integral part to any hockey team), holding the position of ‘stick-boy’ for 18yrs, playing the inspirational music that we love, being a goal judge, selling 50/50 tickets, manning the penalty boxes, being the score keeper, working the beverage room, or being one of the team’s athletic therapists – all roles are integral and vital to the smooth running on and off the ice. You may not realize how many people it takes for you to have a good holler cheer or boo, but I now do. I got to grab a few words from some of the ‘team’ that in turn, support the team.

Why do you like volunteering?
“The camaraderie with other volunteers”, “Giving back to the community, with a high level of service”, “When you make somebody smile – do it!” and when asking whether they are a close knit bunch, the response of “Very – you know what the other one is doing before they know. (We’re) like a family.” Reasons don’t get much better than that.

How many years have you been volunteering?
Now I knew many individuals had been longstanding volunteers, but it seemed 90% of the volunteers I met require a long service award! “From the very start”, “Over 20 years”, or “18 happy years!” were some of the responses. And the few that have started within the past decade are glad to have become a part of such a team and no doubt will be there in decades to come.

Why did you start?
I wondered if many started because they had kids who played, but surprisingly not. It seemed that most started because of their love of their roles and of the game of course. One individual summed it up, “We’re just sports nuts.”

What changes have you seen over the years?
The main change seems to be the spectators. And lone behold, it seems you Aussies have made the biggest mark on the volunteers – “they love it!” That you do ya flaming galahs. It was also duly noted that since the mesh went up there has been “less fish or chickens on the ice”. Which may come as a relief if you are either a fish or chicken residing in Fernie this winter.

Have you ever missed a game?
When I eagerly asked this question the expressions implied I was downright mad, matched with an unequivocal response of “NO!” Ghostrider hockey and their unfailing support cannot be questioned, so don’t ask.

Are the Ghostriders set for another season of success?
This on the other hand brought about anything from a smirk, to the broadest smile I have ever seen. “Oh yes! Going all the way!”

You heard it here first. These unsung heroes are both their biggest fans and their closest allies. They are unfailing in their support, positivity and love for the game. And it shows. If you want to be a part of the action to help this non-profit organization continue to provide undoubtedly the best seasonal entertainment for locals and visitors alike, then you can. “We keep getting more volunteers – but it’s never enough.” So now’s your chance to be in a team and meet a few entertaining characters along the way.

Interested in volunteering? Contact Phil Iddon (Club President - thegov@shawcable.com), check out www.fernieghostriders.com or simply walk up to any smiling volunteer at any game and ask how!