My brothers and I played hockey with Red Circle from 1972 to 1979. My parents could not afford to pay for me and my two brothers to all play hockey, so because my brother Keith was the oldest and was just starting high school, he got to play that first year. I went to every one of his games and practices. About halfway through the year, his coach asked me, ‘Do you play hockey?’ I said, ‘No, my parents can only afford for one of us to play.’
A couple of nights later, the coach phoned the house and told me to bring my hockey gear, that I was on the team, and not to worry about the money. It was all taken care of! I was so excited!
The next year my parents were able to pay for two of us and Red Circle allowed my younger brother, Dave, to start playing hockey at no cost. That same year, I tried out for the Select team. On the final day of cuts, the coach asked to see me outside the dressing room. I thought this is when he tells me that I was being cut. Instead, he told me that they knew my parents couldn’t afford to pay for road trips and stuff but not to worry about it. They will cover all the cost if I’d like to play on the Select team. Even at that age I knew people were helping my brothers and I enjoy just being young and playing hockey.
We wanted to give back, so we started to referee some of the younger groups. We also started coaching at 17 or 18 years old. We were coaching the Bantam teams, and we even coached some of the Select teams as well. We later played in the Men’s League that Red Circle used to run on Sunday mornings. In 1980, we made up a team of former Red Circle players and played in the city league. We were called Redi Rad, and we did very well.
I’m so grateful for my time with the Red Circle Hockey Club, and I’m proud to support the program. This year, I’ll be helping cover the cost for three children to play Red Circle hockey. I’m happy that they’ll have the opportunity to learn and grow as people and have a lot of fun playing the great game of hockey – just like I did growing up.
By Joe Bardawill