NO AMOUNT OF CURRENCY CAN COMPARE TO THE UNTOUCHABLE PRIDE OF A BLACK KAT
by Laura K.
A crisp sheet of ice laying between pounding hockey sticks on the boards. The smell of french fries mixed with pure enthusiasm of the players. The roar of screams coming from the blood pumping crowd. Every breath the player makes is more of a stride toward winning for both a school and a team they feel passion for. For the boys in black and yellow they lay their hearts on the ice for the team they love representing.
Over the past two decades there has been controversy that the FHS passion has died off. Fans in the crowds are what keeps the team together and what keeps their game drive on maximum. Funds for the team have dropped at great rates. Back in 1986, the team had everything cost related covered. They didn’t have to pay for equipment, bus fees, or hotel accommodations. According to Ross Ketch, who started his high school hockey path in 1984, “Hockey was the only thing this town had to do on a Friday night. At the time, we had a home game once a week. Now the team is lucky to have a quarter of the amount of home games we had.” At present, the crowd population at the hockey games have dropped. “On average, we only have around 50 people, not including the parents, showing up to our games, the entire team would like to see more fans show up”, said Josh Vandeebore, senior FHS hockey player.
At present, the FHS Black Kats hockey team is responsible for all costs to play. This becomes extremely pricey for parents, who also have to travel to away games. The high cost to play any sport has kept many talented athletes from having the opportunity to show their skills off and play a sport that they love. “The cost for kids to be involved in sports prevents many talented students from putting themselves out there, it is a shame”, said Ketch.
It is no question that the FHS hockey season brings out school spirit. It is wonderful to see students dress up in the famous yellow and black. Students take time and effort to make signs to place against the glass to cheer on their team. This motivates players to present their best playing skills to win for their school. The hockey team respectfully dress up when they have a game scheduled for that day. This shows the school-wide population who our hockey players are. This is a rewarding feeling for our Black Kats hockey team for all of the effort they put into making our school known.
Josh has a strong belief about school spirit the team brings to the school. He said, “It is clear we are well known by the school. We start pep rallies and strongly bring out school spirit.”
For some students, they may believe that any school athlete gets more attention. The players are like any other students walking the halls. They have to maintain a good attendance and an even better average. Playing a school sport isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of energy and effort to attend all practices. Some teams require two hour practices up to five times a week and this doesn’t include games. Teachers are very satisfied with how well the athletes are doing in school.
Teachers school-wide participate in both coaching and volunteering for many of our school sports. “When I was done playing hockey, I wanted to keep up volunteering during my university years. After awhile hockey volunteer work became part of my daily life”, said Mr. Currie, Head Coach of 2012 team.
The amount of involvement the staff of our school portrays is simply unbelievable. Students of Fredericton High School are blessed to have such a fantastic staff. We have over 30 staff members who have dedicated their own personal time in this year alone. Even after retirement, many of the past staff members, come back to give a helping hand. These active members do not get the recognition they deserve. Our staff feels the school pride still boiling in their blood. This is what overall gives them the want and need to return to the house of yellow and black.
Playing for FHS sports leaves players with countless amount of memories they can pass on to the generations to come. Almost 25 years after leaving high school Ketch will never forget the way he felt the first time he has a hat trick in front of his home school. “Being able to make that move gave me the confidence to try that much harder”, he said. “Playing for a team I had pride for made hockey mean so much more for me. Hockey helped me get through all the struggles in my high school life. The game gave me motivation to get through my father becoming sick. Hockey is what kept my spirit alive”, said Ketch.
Over the years, players can carry the best memories of their lives made by playing FHS sports. Year after year the love for Fredericton High has become stronger. “Winning Provincials will live on in my life for as long as I shall live”, said Vandeebore.
The LBR Arena is where many players had their first big break in hockey. Although the large transition to the Grant Harvey Centre may be difficult for players, a new beginning can lead to endless possibilities. This is a new territory for our Kats to dominate.
FHS hockey has been the light in a dark place for many players. The ice is a symbol of the first shed of blood. A symbol of a first bone ever broken. A symbol of first tournament ever won. A symbol of first love.
Most of all, Fredericton High School hockey, is for most the first symbol of life.