Harder: Pats Embrace Team-Building Exercise
September 13, 2012
Greg Harder gets the full rundown on the Pats day of construction
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By Greg Harder, Leader-Post
As part of their ongoing WHL education, the Regina Pats are learning that a team is built a lot like a house.
It all starts with a solid foundation.
The analogy was put to good use Wednesday when the Pats' players and coaches joined forces with Habitat for Humanity - in conjunction with The Mosaic Company - to assist in the construction of a new home for a family in need.
"It's good that we get involved in the community," offered goaltender Matt Hewitt, who was among the Pats' contingent that took part in a similar HFH project last season. "It's huge for less-fortunate families. I think it really does make a difference. The guys also enjoy doing it. We get to go hang out during the day and do something a little bit different, get away from the rink. It's more of a teambuilding thing. We can have some fun with it as long as we're getting the job done."
With the house's exterior nearly complete, the Pats chipped in with some finishing touches, including the construction of a fence.
The players' qualifications varied, resulting in some friendly competition between the city boys and those with rural backgrounds.
"I got to go there and work and show the city slickers what to do," said forward Dyson Stevenson, who has some carpentry experience working on his family farm near Shaunavon. "I got to use the table saw. I was working with Hewie, he was doing my measurements. I think every three measurements I had to re-cut a board because he had no idea what he was doing. Then he wanted to cut. I let him do the last board. I was pretty scared. I had my glasses on and was about 10 feet away from the table saw when he was trying to cut it. I'm surprised he didn't get his fingers caught in there."
Hewitt presented a slightly different version.
"Some of the guys think they're good at it," chuckled the native of New Westminster, B.C. "Dyson thinks he can run the show out there because he's used to being on a farm. All the farm boys try to take control but they'd be surprised what the city guys can do."
Stevenson wasn't convinced.
"Just because he's a city guy he would say that," he added with a smile. "(Andrew) Rieder (from Regina) did all right. Guys like (Colton) Jobke from the big cities like Vancouver, they didn't have a clue."
Defenceman Brandon Underwood recognized his strengths as well as his limitations. Working alongside Hewitt, they joked about starting their own construction company where Hewitt (5-foot-11, 155 pounds) served as the brains and Underwood (6-foot-3, 220) provided the brawn.
"It was a team effort," said Underwood, adding that he was probably one of the guys who didn't belong operating power tools. "That's the first thing (head coach) Pat (Conacher) said, 'We don't want any city boys handling the power tools.' Dyson was using the big power saw and I was picking up boards and moving them. We didn't really want (a guy Hewitt's size) picking up wood and stuff."
Despite some good-natured ribbing, the Pats were serious about their role on the job site, helping with a home that's to be handed over before Christmas to a single mother of three who's working two jobs to make ends meet.
"It's good to get in the community and show we support the community as they support us," said rookie hopeful Braden Christoffer, who does some construction work in the off-season with his dad. "We're really privileged to be hockey players and to have family that has been there to support us. It's nice to give back to families that don't have that."
The Pats split their team into two groups for the project, with veteran non-school players spending the morning on the job site before heading to the rink for a light afternoon practice. The younger players reported for duty in the afternoon after they were finished school, getting the day off from practice.
It's a busy time for the Pats, balancing practices, workouts, games and school. However, Conacher often cites the importance of being involved in the community and learning how to be better citizens as well as players.
That formula has been conducive to helping make the Pats a better team.
"Coming to the rink every day, sometimes it can get a bit monotonous," added Underwood. "Going out there with a bunch of guys, being men, doing some construction, it's fun. It's for a good cause, too. We take for granted the stuff we get, just having a roof over our heads and getting to play junior hockey. It's a privilege. Taking a step back and putting things in perspective and getting hands-on with helping someone start a life, it's a really good feeling."
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