Page 1

Mitch MacDonald

Neil Tkatchuk

Canoe Odyssey

June 2011

Regina Riot


2 June 2011


04 From the Editor 06 Canoe Odyssey 08 Your Body, Your Mind 10 Kids of Steel 22 Forever & Today Tom McNall 24 Regina Riot 27 Urban Challenge 28 Focus On Paintball 30 Y’er Welcome

June 2011 14 Neil Tkatchuk

An interest in weightlifting led Neil Tkatchuk to bodybuilding. He recently won his pro card in the IDFA, an all-natural bodybuilding association. He also continues to build a healthy lifestyle for himself and others.

16 Get to Know

Mitch MacDonald

The Regina Red Sox were led by their Regina-born, triple crown winner last season, Mitch MacDonald. He’s back for another crack at it.

19 Destination Running

There’s something about racing in an exotic locale that is thrilling and provides additional motivation for training. We talk to a few people who have hit foreign roads.



Regina Sports

Issue 19: June 2011 Editor-in-Chief: Julie Folk Admin Manager: Allie Folk Creative Director: Jay Roach

From The Editor Summer in the city community has grown in the past few years. The half marathon for the QCM sold out by April 15! That’s a first.

Contributors: Bob Hughes, CJ Katz, Maurice Laprairie. Printing: Printwest ISSN: 1920-468X Cover Photo: Maurice Laprairie Cover design: Jay Roach/AdSpark

For anyone who needs to get off the couch, the world is waiting for you, ready for you to play a sport or train for something you’ve always thought of but have never taken the first step towards.

Copyright covers all contents of this magazine. No part of the publication may be re-used or copied without the expressed written consent of Adrenaline: Regina Sports.


GET YOUR COPY ! Stapleford Physio New Line Boxing Artisan Taekwondo Italian Star Deli Western Cycle River City Sports Track & Trail/Sunshine & Ski Off Axis University of Regina Java Express, Stone’s Throw, Second Cup, Roca House Southland Mall Victoria Square Mall Northgate Mall Cornwall Centre Best Western Seven Oaks Flaman Fitness Leisure & Fitness Centres

4 June 2011

Is there anything better than stepping out into the fresh morning air, ready to do a sport you love? Whether you’re heading out for a round on the golf course, hitting the pavement for a walk, run, or bike ride, splashing into the pool for a swim, or playing a team sport of your choice, summer is the time to go outdoors and enjoy the city. It’s exciting to see more people becoming active. Every time we talk to runners about one of Regina’s premiere races, such as the Queen City Marathon, it amazes me how much the running

After training, it’s time to bring out the green and white, because the Saskatchewan Roughriders start training camp in June, and have preseason games here June 17 against the Edmonton Eskimos, and in B.C. against the Lions on June 22. Who knows what will be in store for us this season? It’s always a rollercoaster ride on the Roughrider fan bus. Get active, get moving, and cheer hard,

Julie Folk Editor Contact: Adrenaline: Regina Sports (306) 751-0787 To advertise: Column photo by Maurice Laprairie

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Canoe Odyssey By: Julie Folk

These canoers have been on the water their entire lives. But perhaps never for the duration they are experiencing right now.


crew of six experienced paddlers, including Regina’s Stephanie Robertson and Whitney Vanderleest and Lumsden’s Ross Phillips, departed from Fraser River Park on April 17 to travel across Canada via canoe and, when necessary, bikes. Their goal is to make it across the country in less than 170 days, bring attention to the value of Canada’s waterways, raise awareness for the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, and fulfill a lifelong dream which Robertson and Phillips have been imagining since canoeing the waters of Wascana Lake when they were young.

“We started talking about this trip a long, long time ago,” said Robertson. “You think of doing a trip like this, it’s a dream that you hold for a long period of your life... We tried to decide what would be very relevant to what we’re doing. We decided on the Nature Conservancy because they’re a great organization and do a lot of sustainability and land and waterway protection, and then we’re also choosing something that helps support the general health and wellbeing of people around you – to get out, get active, and enjoy our natural world.” The group has certainly been doing quite a bit of that. Their days are filled with either canoeing or portaging their canoes by biking and pulling their

6 June 2011

canoes on carts behind them. They are following Canada’s major waterways, from the Fraser River all the way through Canada, including the North Saskatchewan River, to the Saint John River, where they will finish the trip in Saint John, New Brunswick in September. Where they can’t canoe, they portage, which so far has been interesting as they have pedaled over the mountains of British Columbia. “Leading up (to the trip), I was most worried about the beginning – getting from Hope, B.C., to Princeton, the Summer Landing area, because there

is still so much snow up there,” said Robertson. “It was really hard climbing – we had to go over Allison Summit and Summer Summit – and we managed to do both in one day. The next difficult part (was) Hawthe’s Pass, which was the first pass used by the early explorers. Neat historically, but it’s not well kept as it’s outside national park boundaries.” Planning for the Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey, as the group is titled, began two years ago, and included scouting of the route as well as planning supplies and materials. The group

Route Schedule (TENTATIVE)







Vancouver Hope Brookmere Summerland

Winnipeg at the Forks Rainy River

Vernon Rainy River Saskatchewan Crossing Devon began with Robertson and Phillips, but came together quickly. Robertson kayaked with the Canadian National Canoe Kayak Team, attended Dalhousie University, and is now coaching with the Wascana Racing Canoe Club. Phillips has competed in the Canadian Marathon Canoe championships on several occasions, and has been on the water in various sports for years. He attended the University of Saskatchewan. Phillips and Robertson then brought together people they had met who were interested in the adventure. Robertson knew Whitney Vanderleest through kayaking together growing up and with Team Canada; Phillips went to the University of Saskatchewan with Nathalie Brunet of Ontario and Shane Ringham of Calgary, and Abby Lewis of Nova Scotia has competed in the Canadian Marathon Canoe Championships. Robertson said one of the most interesting aspects of the trip is the group dynamic, but everything has gone really well. “Five awesome people keep you positive, and you’re out in the world, in nature,” said Robertson. “You don’t notice bad weather because you just deal with it. It’s not as hard as I expected it to feel. It’s harder to be at (my) desk at work and go to the gym for an hour than it is to transport my body across the country. It’s amazing how quickly your perspective changes and how quickly you adapt.” On a cross-country trip, anything can happen. So far the Canoe Odyssey group has experienced just a couple of mishaps – a bike cart broke and Phillips and Vanderleest had to run 15 km with it to make it to the campsite, and Vanderleest took a tumble over the handlebars of her bike. But one of the things the group is most looking forward to is seeing how the logistical planning continues to play out over the course of the next few months. Every leg of the journey brings a new experience. “We were a bit scared of paddling on the Fraser because of the current and (we) weren’t sure if the water was going to be high, but that turned out awesome,” said Robertson. “Lake Revelstoke is beautiful... There will be head waters on the North Saskatchewan, and the Great Lakes has a lot of islands and big water.” For more information and to follow their journey, check out

Terrace Bay North Channel Yacht Club Ottawa

Borden Bridge/Saskatoon Quebec The Pas Edmunston Saint John

Photos courtesy of the Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey

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Loss of consciousness Seizure or convulsion Amnesia Headache “pressure in head”

> > > > > >

Neck pain Nausea or vomiting Dizziness Blurred vision Balance problems Sensitivity to light

> > > > > >

Sensitivity to noise Feeling like “in a fog” “don’t feel right” Difficulty concentrating Difficulty remembering Fatigue or low energy

> > > > > >

Confusion Drowsiness More emotional Irritability Sadness Nervous or anxious

MANAGEMENT Remember problems could arise over the first 24 - 48 hours. Go to the hospital at once if you: • • • •

Have a headache that gets worse Any appearance of new symptoms Are very drowsy and can’t be awakened Cannot recognize people or places

• • • • •

Have repeated vomiting Behave unusually or seem confused; are very irritable Have seizures Have weak or numb arms or legs Are unsteady on your feet; have slurred speech

Other important points: • • • •

Rest and avoid strenuous activity for at least 24 hrs. No alcohol No sleeping tablets Do NOT drive until medically cleared

Use paracetamol or codeine for headache. Do NOT use aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication • Do NOT train or play sports or participate in any activities with risk for further contact until medically cleared •


Athletes should not be returned to play the same day of injury. There should be 24 hours or longer for each stage. If symptoms recur the athlete should return to stage one. Resistance training should only be started in the later stages. 1. Rest until asymptomatic (physical and mentalrest-no computer games, online chat, texting,decreased school load) 2. Light aerobic exercise (ex. Stationary cycle) 3. Sport-specific exercise 4. Non-contact training drills (start light resistance training) 5. Full contact training after medical clearance 6. Return to competition (game play)

8 June 2011

MEDICAL CLEARANCE MUST BE GIVEN PRIOR TO RETURN TO PLAY. The CATA strongly encourages concussion management be under the supervision of a professional sport health practitioner such as a sport physician, certified athletic therapist and or a neuropsychologist.

Reference: McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Johnston K, Dvorak J, Aubry M, Molloy M, Cantu R. Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport: the 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2008. Br. J. Sports Med 2009, 43 (Supp I): 176-184.


Understand the signs and risks of head injuries. Ask your Athletic Therapist.


June is national athletic therapy Month.

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Kids of Steel By: CJ Katz

The evening my husband came home and announced he’d signed up our 11-year-old son for triathlon training, I promptly said, “No way! Not a chance!” Triathlon? My only experience with the sport was via my slightly eccentric uncle who was among the very first Canadians ever to compete at a Hawaii Ironman®. When he first participated back in the early ’80s, few people were crazy enough to punish their body through a long, gruelling event. In fact, the first Ironman® ever held only drew 14 people and just six of them managed to haul themselves across the finish line. I was convinced that triathlon training for our son, Aidan, was a crackpot idea.


confess I was wrong. Triathlon isn’t just the intense Hawaii Ironman®. It encompasses a wide range of distances and endurance levels, from the Regina Multisport Club’s Icebreaker Sprint distance and Simon Whitfield’s Olympic distance to mini events like the See Jane Tri for adult women beginners, and the Kids of Steel® events for kids five to 19 years old. It was this kid-friendly program that Aidan first experienced and the same one a young Simon Whitfield took part in as a boy. Triathlon is one of the fastest growing mainstream sports in the world. Triathlon Canada reports that worldwide there has been an increase in participation of more than 300 percent in the last five years. And why not? It’s a healthy sport that virtually all people of all ages and athletic ability can do. Think of a little four-year-old girl pedaling her pink bike to shouts of encouragement from family, a mother of three doing a try-a-tri for the first time, or even a wheelchair-bound accountant competing with the help of a “pit crew.” Our oldest participant in Regina will turn 79 this fall. Indeed, it’s a lifelong sport.

10 June 2011

Some of the first outdoor activities we learn as children are to run, bike and swim. For a child, what could be more fun than swimming with friends in a lake, hopping on a bike and pedaling around a course, and then running across the finish line to shouts of hoorays from parents and high-fives from friends? The atmosphere is truly positive and the kids and parents wear proud smiles the rest of the day. Triathlon is a healthy choice as it allows for cross training with three different disciplines. It’s also a great option for the

child who didn’t make a school team or isn’t quite tops at swimming or track. And they can take the sport as far as they want, choosing to participate just for the fun of it, or train their way up to more competitive races. The Saskatchewan Triathlon Association Corporation, together with Regina-based EVRAZ, makers of steel products, have formed the EVRAZ Kids of Steel® Race Series. This community-oriented initiative includes four races directed at kids five to 15 years old. The goal is simply to let kids

under the guidance of coach Patrick Ash. The group meets several times a week to swim, as well as to hone their running and biking skills. In addition, they organize clinics and camps throughout the year. Find out more at Also, check out the Saskatchewan Triathlon Association website,, for information on the Kids of Steel® program, the EVRAZ Kids of Steel® Race Series, adult races, clinics, as well as coaches and clubs around the province.

have a blast participating in the three sports. The first was the Campbell & Haliburton Kids of Steel® Icebreaker on May 7, which drew over 60 kids of all ages to swim in the University of Regina pool, bike around the campus and run a loop around First Nation’s University. The second race, held in Yorkton on May 29, was also a pool swim, followed by a bike and a run through a residential neighborhood. The final two take place in Saskatoon. The very popular Brainsport event on June 18 draws as many as 200 kids from age five to 15 to swim in Riversdale pool and then bike and run through the adjacent park. The Craven-Genki Triathlon the following day on June 19 is a more competitive race for young adults and teenagers 12 to 19 years old. It features the first outdoor swim of the season in beautiful Pike Lake followed by a bike and run through the provincial park. Like all races in the series, every child and teenager receives a cool participation medal as they cross the finish line. If you’re worried about your child’s ability level, young children are permitted to wear life jackets and water wings as well as use tricycles and bikes with training wheels. Helmets are mandatory for all age levels. If you’re looking to find out more about triathlon for kids, the Regina Multisport Club has a youth triathlon team, a group of 12 to 18 year olds who train together, both recreationally and competitively,

So, triathlon wasn’t such a crackpot idea after all. Aidan is now 17, has been training in the sport for six years and has gone from participating for the fun of it to racing competitively. He’s also made friends with other likeminded kids focused on healthy living and getting good grades in school. And as a parent, I hope these habits stay with him for the rest of his life.

RaCE DISTANCES (maximum distances) Age

Swim Bike Run 50 m

1.5 km 500 m

8-9 yrs

100 m

5 km

1 km

10-11 yrs

200 m

5 km

2 km

12-13 yrs

300 m

10 km

3 km

14-15 yrs

500 m

10 km

4 km

16-19 yrs

750 m

20 km

5 km

18-19 yrs

1.5 km 40 km

10 km


750 m

5 km

Olympic/ Standard Ironman®

1.5 km 40 km

7 and under

20 km

10 km

3.86 km 180.25 km 42.195 km

Photos by CJ Katz


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Regina Highlanders Commitment, sacrifice, teamwork and victory. The Regina Highlanders’ motto sums up what their rugby club stands for. Determination and resilience could also be added to that list, as Regina’s youngest rugby club has continued to forge their way forward since their inception in 1988.


t that time, Grant Cranfield was in Grade 10 and part of the club’s high school junior team. Now, the longest-serving Highlander is the President of the club, and proud of what they have accomplished since they began.

“(In 1988), there was a Rybacks 7s tournament, which was put on by the Grads,” said Cranfield. “A bunch of Condors and guys from other teams, who all played Rams football together, decided to make their own 7s team for this tournament, and it blossomed from there. They were originally called the Cherry Lifesavers Rugby Club, which was our name up until 1988. Then we changed it to be taken a little more seriously.” The Lifesavers began as current and former players of the Regina Rams, who at that time were Regina’s junior football team. Dwayne LaMontagne was one of the main founders of the club. The rugby club was made up of talented athletes; however it took awhile for the team to progress in their rugby skills. “We had a former captain of (Team) Canada – Mark Lawson – with our club for a

12 June 2011

year (in 1999) as a coach and a player,” said Cranfield. “He was a very positive guy and a great influence. That was the turning point for us and changed our team into something a little more serious.” In 2001, the club brought on Matt Gibson from Australia as a player and coach. That was the first year the Highlanders won the provincial title. They folded in 2003 due to lack of players, but returned after a season off, stronger than they were before, and won a provincial title again in 2005 under head coach Paul Robson from the Scarborough Rugby Club in Scarborough, England. While today many football players still make up the team who play in the Regina

Rugby Union’s Senior Men’s Division, they have branched out and players from a variety of athletic backgrounds make up the club. Many players also come from the Highlanders’ high school team, made up of students from O’Neill, Winston Knoll, and Riffel. Several players from the Division I Highlanders coach the high school team. Off the field, the club also participates in activities together, including raising money for prostate cancer through ‘Movember.’ In November of 2010, they raised $8500 – which was the most of any Saskatchewan rugby club, and second throughout Canada.


Rugby Union

While developing the new recruits, the Highlanders are also working on bringing back alumni as part of the club in many different capacities to continue to shape the family atmosphere that rugby is so well known for. “The season looks promising,” said Cranfield. “We had a strong offseason program. The North YMCA was really good to us and put together a training program for us twice a week. We have a couple of new players to fill some voids and a lot of returning guys,

so we’re going to be a strong team.” A few of those strong returning players are Drew Kendel, Mischa Bosovich, Kim Korchinski, and Jamie Sinclair. Nathan Perkins, who was an assistant coach with the Prairie Fire, is the head coach of the Highlanders this year. To learn more about the Highlanders or to join the club, see highlandersrugbyclub. com, or call Grant Cranfield at 530-8473.

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Building a Lifestyle By: Julie Folk

Neil Tkatchuk has built more than just his body. He has built a way of life.


katchuk has transformed his workout habits, his eating habits, and his entire lifestyle over the past five years since becoming a bodybuilder. In that time, the sport has altered and improved almost every other aspect of his life.

“Bodybuilding has taught me so much – patience, commitment, consistency, everything,” said Tkatchuk, who is a natural bodybuilder, meaning he does not use banned supplements. “I’m just trying to promote it. Not so that everyone has to compete in bodybuilding, but that lifestyle approach because I want other people to feel the same way I do. I’m trying to get rid of (stereotypes) by doing it natural, to show people that it is a healthy lifestyle, and you’re going to see healthy benefits.” Tkatchuk reached one of his goals in the first week of May this year

14 June 2011

when he earned his pro card after finishing as the overall winner at the International Drug-Free Athletics (IDFA) competition in Calgary. He first went for his pro card a month earlier, and while he won his weight class, he didn’t win overall. He decided to train and diet another four weeks and try for it again. Tkatchuk had been competing in the provincial organization, SABBA (Saskatchewan Amateur Bodybuilding Association), for almost all of his past shows. This year he made the switch to the allnatural organization. Typically most people will compete about once a year, as Tkatchuk has done. When he started, he won his division in the first show he ever competed in, which fuelled him to continue. “Right after high school, ironically, my younger brother (Mark) started going to the gym and he kind of got me into

it; my mom also gave me that little push to get started,” said Tkatchuk. “In high school I was a skinny little pencil – I was 145 pounds, never worked out, ate Burger King every lunch hour, but I had that ectomorphic frame so I didn’t gain any weight. I didn’t do any sports, but something triggered inside of me and I started going to the gym, and doing a lot of reading online because it really started to interest me and I wanted to learn more. After training for over a year, I decided I wanted to do a bodybuilding competition. I would have been 20 years old, and I did the SABBA novice show that year. I competed in the junior category – 21 and under – and I ended up winning my category. After that I was kind of hooked.” Tkatchuk’s first two years of university were in Business Administration, but he began enjoying the bodybuilding lifestyle and realized his passion. He switched his studies and now has a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree in addition to his certificate in personal training through the Canadian Society

had to be patient to get where I’m at, but it’s finally paid off. With society today, everybody wants a quick fix, and it just doesn’t work like that... It’s not like this just happened for me. I’ve had setbacks, but I always say a setback is a setup for a comeback. As long as you stay focused on where you want to go, eventually you’ll get there.”

which he trains other bodybuilders in addition to people looking for advice on health and fitness. He was also recently hired by the Regina Fire Department. The vision of his life that he has had for a few years has now come together. of Exercise and Physiology. Another part of bodybuilding is learning what works for each individual person, and building on that experience. “Over the years I’ve done different diets and training styles,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with where I am now. A lot of it is learning about nutrition... Now I have a more consistent approach for the whole year, so it’s a lifestyle now... Food is related to everything. There’s a huge mental aspect to this sport, and sometimes I forget where I came from, because it’s just my life right now; it’s normal for me. I try to think of food as more of a tool and a fuel for my body.... Whenever I’m eating anything, I naturally think, is this going to help me in reaching my goals? If it’s not, I’m probably not going to eat it.”

Tkatchuk looks forward to competing now in professional events – most likely next year will be his first professional contest. He said he’ll get there by doing what he’s always done, which is giving the sport 100 percent effort. “I always say that if anybody’s going to beat me in a competition, it’s not going to be because they outworked me,” said Tkatchuk. “If I get beat, it’s because their genetics are better or they’ve been doing it for longer, it’s not because they’re more consistent or anything like that. That consistent approach has taken awhile. I’ve

Tkatchuk’s win for his pro card was overwhelming and emotional – it was against high quality athletes and his father was backstage with him. He said it was one of the best feelings of his life, and a moment he’s going to build on. “I’ve become more focused and driven over this past year,” he said. “To see all these things come together just makes me want to keep living like this.” Photos (opposite page, above right) by Brad Woodard -Tailwind Studios Photo (above left) by Dave Paul Photography

While Tkatchuk takes a year-round lifestyle approach to his training, typically five months ahead of a competition he’ll begin to diet for the contest season, ensuring his food is specifically weighed and measured, and his weight training and cardio remain consistent. Tkatchuk opened his own fitness business, Trench Fitness, through



Mitch MacDonald Mitch MacDonald has played many baseball games near and far from home. He played college baseball for Monterey Peninsula College before he was drafted to the Florida Marlins in 2006. There, he played rookie ball, followed by a year with the Jamestown Jammers. Two months ago, he had a tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals. But MacDonald’s name in the Queen City may be most well known from his play with the Regina Red Sox. MacDonald is heading into his fourth season with the team, after finishing last season with the triple crown in the Western Major Baseball League. He had a leading batting average of .476, eight home runs, and 48 RBI in 36 regular season games. He’s now attending Minot State and coaching baseball while spending his summers at home with the Red Sox.

drenaline Regina Sports: Last season was a successful year for you. Are you looking to build on that success this season?


ARS: How did your tryout with the Cardinals come about?

Mitch MacDonald: I think as any athlete, you’re always trying to build on your past, and are continually trying to progress. That’s why anybody plays a sport; they want to continually get better. It’s no different from me or anybody else, to try to get better every year and try to help your team win games. We had a good team last year. We had a lot of guys who wanted to have fun, but at the same time when they were at the ball park, they wanted to win, so it was a good mix of having fun and taking what we were doing seriously on the field. It was fun to play last summer. Our third baseman, Tony Crudo, is coming back, as is our catcher, Andrew Kapple, and our shortstop from two summers ago, Jason Veyna, who’s playing second base this

MM: I was looking for ways to further myself as a baseball player and I knew a coach there with the Cardinals. He was my hitting coach down in Jamestown for the Marlins in short season A (minor league baseball). We called him originally to see if he’d endorse me anywhere to play and then he found out I was 22 at the time, turning 23 – apparently he thought I was a lot older. He said you should come down, try out with the Cardinals, see where it goes from there. So I went down to my old junior college in California to train for the whole month of February, and then had the tryout in Jupiter, Florida in the second week of March. It went well. They liked what they saw in me as a hitter. They said I had good hand path through the ball, and was quick

16 June 2011

year. Brandon Keith, one of our pitchers, is coming back, as are a few others.

through the strike zone. They wanted to evaluate their own guys for first base, and they said they’d keep in touch and if anything happened, I’d be a guy they’d give a call to. ARS: Is it difficult to be noticed for the professional leagues when playing baseball in Regina? MM: It’s a little tougher just because there isn’t as big of pedigree here, but there are guys in the past (from Saskatchewan) who have played pro ball – guys like Dustin Molleken and James Avery. The numbers aren’t the same as somewhere like California, but at the same time it’s easier to be a standout ball player in Saskatchewan than it is in California. For any ball player, if you’re good enough, someone will find you. If you’re good enough a junior college will give you a shot, a university will give you a shot, and it trickles down from there.


ARS: You’re one of few local players on the Red Sox. What’s it like playing at home in Regina? MM: I love it. I can walk to Currie Field over in Mount Pleasant, and I used to do that a lot. An even better thing is my brother (Geoff) has played with us over the last two summers. I’ve never been able to play with him before because he’s four years younger than I am. He’s an outfielder. He got all the athleticism – he’s faster than me, taller than me, better looking than me, he just can’t hit like I can, that’s what I got. Both my parents going to the same ball park, they enjoy that quite a bit. ARS: What led to your success, last season in particular? MM: Baseball’s one of those sports where your ideal age range for major leagues is high 20s, as opposed to hockey and football, which is low to mid 20s. The smarter you are in baseball, the better you are. The more you can figure out pitchers and their tendencies and the more pitches you see over time kind of helps. Last summer I didn’t do anything differently than I normally did; everything just clicked all in one summer. ARS: What are your best memories with the Red Sox so far? MM: I was just talking to Coach Rob (Cherepuschak) about that a couple of days ago. When I was 19, in 2006, we were playing Melville in the playoffs in Game 5 and our starting pitcher was a guy who had played AA ball with the Phillies and he set a record for strikeouts per season. He was rehabbing because he had a bad run of injuries. Meville’s pitcher was a guy who actually plays for the Milwaukee Brewers right now in the MLB,

John Axford, who was throwing about 94 miles per hour that day. We ended up winning that game like 1-0 or 2-1, and both the pitchers struck out 12 or 13 guys each. Neither team could hit any of the pitches and I remember sitting in the dugout and thinking this is the best ball game I could ever be a part of because it seemed like one hit could get you a run and one stolen base was huge and the intensity level was really high. I think I had one infield base hit – he only gave up about five or six hits that day. One of the other games I’ll probably never forget was last year against Moose Jaw in the semi finals when they were selling standing only tickets and people were lined up along the foul line. Baseball’s one of the few games you can heckle and hear

guys heckle, and people from the stands shouting random baseball adages. ARS: What are your future goals? MM: Just to help my team win games. I’ve never really set too crazy goals for myself. Really all I ever try to do going into a season is hit .300 – that’s the same goal I’ve had through high school, junior college, and pro ball. But the biggest goal I’ve ever had is trying to help my team win. Whether that means hitting four sacrifice flies in a game and going 0-for-4, so be it, or 0-for-4 with three RBIs, so be it. I never really got overly caught up with trying to hit a particular average or however many home runs, I just try to hit the ball hard every at bat.

Photos by Maurice Laprairie

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18 June 2011


Running Away By: Julie Folk

Running along a beach as waves crash into the surf beside your feet. High-fiving Elvis as you run past the bright lights of the Vegas strip and a multitude of blushing brides and happy grooms. Climbing thousands of steps up the Great Wall of China. Retracing the footsteps of the very first marathon.


ll entirely possible for anyone who ever wanted to run.

As the sport and hobby of running has grown tremendously over the past 10 years, so has the idea of combining travel while accomplishing that goal race. Races around the world hold varying mystiques, adventure, and motivation to continue through training. We talked to a few people about their experiences running away from home.

“It’s the destination, and the idea of

running somewhere different,” said Renae Grubb. “You are just trying to absorb as much as you can. It’s tough to describe... I’ve loved travelling, however, adding in the running, there’s just something about the sensation of it – it’s very exhilarating.”

Grubb began running 11 years ago when she and a friend signed up for the Queen City Marathon. She loved the experience, and over time the former teacher began coaching as well. Now, she coaches Track and Trail clinics, City of Regina clinics, Joints in Motion clinics, and most recently a clinic for a group who will Run Barbados. “I went to visit some friends in Plymouth, England, and ran two races while I was there,” she said. “I came

Hong Kong Marathon Photo courtesy of Garry Schultz back and said, ‘That’s what I want to do – I want to do races in foreign countries.’ A month later, Joints in Motion contacted me to be a trainer/coach. I said, ‘Yes, I would love to do that!’ It was amazing.” Since that time, Grubb has also run a 10 mile race in Dublin, Ireland, a full marathon in Athens, Greece, and a half marathon in Barbados. She’s looking forward to returning to Dublin in September, followed by another trip to Barbados with the Run Barbados group.

Grubb trains all ages and demographics. She has training programs for people just getting off the couch to those trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She includes variety in the training, and prepares runners for the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of the race. Destination runs offer completely new experiences in addition to unfamiliar challenges. “When training for Barbados, we knew it was going to be over 30 degrees


“After a Sunday run, a group of us went for a coffee and said, ‘Let’s do something fun,’” said Rosalyn. “Then the momentum came and it became a goal and we said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ We contacted a travel agent and next thing you know we had a group of 10 and it became a dream.” The group booked a trip to Las Vegas. They finished the half marathon a year and a half after Rosalyn’s 50th birthday.

Renae Grubb in Plymouth, England. Celsius that day,” said Grubb. “In that kind of heat, when you’re not used to it, it’s extra challenging... With the Great Wall of China, they say to run the marathon is 25 percent more of a challenge (because of the stairclimbing).” When looking at her own experience with destination running, Grubb has one race in particular that stands out. She was asked to run with the Canadian Joints in Motion group in the marathon in Athens, Greece, on October 31, 2010. “We ran from Marathon, Greece, to Athens,” she said. “As I’m entering Olympic Stadium, they were playing Chariots of Fire, and I had goosebumps all over me.” Garry Schultz had a trip planned to visit his cousin in Hong Kong, Japan, in February of 2011. Schultz began running in 2009, and had since completed a 10 km run and three half marathons. He was interested in attempting the full marathon, and decided for his first one, he should run somewhere different. “I thought it’d be cool to run someplace else,” he said. “You train better because you have a goal to shoot for and want to do your best.” Schultz trained with one of Grubb’s running groups, but he was participating in the event at a time when no one else was training for a full marathon – and it was the middle of a

20 June 2011

Rosalyn Best in Las Vegas. very cold winter, meaning many hours and laps around the track at the Fieldhouse. “That was the tough part,” said Schultz. “November and December were OK, but mid-December to January, I was training by myself, and it was a little tougher.” His other challenge? “Running (in Hong Kong) was 20 degrees, and 80 percent humidity – that was a killer in the last part of the race.” However Schultz said he would absolutely do the race again – or another race in a different location. “It was 65,000 people,” said Schultz. “It was basically all on freeways, over bridges, through tunnels, the last 5K was through the town, and it was just a good experience.” Schultz said the bridges were interesting, as one was over 1.6 km long. After the race was over came the other exciting thing about destination running – the holiday. Schultz spent three great weeks in Thailand. He’s now looking for another running holiday in the future. Rosalyn Best and her husband, Doug, went to Las Vegas two years ago for her 50th birthday. On the way home, Rosalyn picked up a magazine with cupcakes on the cover that appealed to her. She began reading, and was interested in an article about a 50-yearold couple who began running. “Doug read the article and said, ‘When we go back, let’s do that,’” said Rosalyn, who resisted at first but decided to go ahead and give it a try with Doug, starting with shorter races such as a 5 km race, and then building on the distance.

“Going to Vegas, what blew me away was that there were 33,000 runners,” said Rosalyn. “They were from all over the world, and you caught the energy. For me doing the run, the goal was to do it, survive it, and complete it. When we started going through it, it was so much fun. There were bands everywhere and tons of Elvis, brides and grooms in various attire. We took photo ops along the way, so it certainly wasn’t a personal best, but it was for the fun of it. I crossed that finish line and they put a quintessential Vegas gaudy medal around my neck and I posed with a showgirl. I have those pictures on my fridge.” Not only did the Bests finish the half marathon, but they’re now inspired to continue running. They are going to Vegas again next year, to run the strip from Mandalay Bay to Fremont Street and back. They are also participating in the Queen City Marathon. Running has become not just something to do, but a way of life. “It’s a new way to see the world,” said Best. “You peek into a window of a country from a different perspective... Then it’s, where are you possibly going to go next? We are starting to dream about other opportunities and places to run... You have to start off with baby steps and a dream and the world is limitless.” Aileen Anthony ran the Jingle Bell Run in 1999. She went to the luncheon afterwards and picked up a brochure about an upcoming Joints in Motion group travelling to run in Dublin. “I love travelling, and so I thought, ‘I’m going to do this.’ When I saw the brochure, it just intrigued me. And it was for charity, so I thought it was a good thing,” said Anthony. “When I did my first marathon, it was in November of 2000. I had just turned 40, so it was my first one.” Anthony trained with the Joints in Motion running group while also fundraising for the Arthritis Society, which Joints in Motion supports.

“Doing the actual marathon, it was the worst weather they ever had in the history of the marathon,” said Anthony. “I did finish it. It wasn’t my best time, but it was my first one. The experience was wonderful. You kind of get this high from running and it was definitely there.” Anthony loved the experience so much, she decided to participate in a marathon in Lausanne, Switzerland. After that was Honolulu, then Belgium. Then she took a few years off. For her first four marathons, she didn’t know anyone with arthritis but ran for the charity. Then in 2009, her daughter Sarah was diagnosed with arthritis. “I thought, ‘I ran these four marathons for people I didn’t even know and now my daughter has it. I have to do another one.’” Aileen Anthony in Greece.

Anthony signed up for the Joints in Motion group travelling to Athens in October of 2010. She had taken a hiatus from running for seven years and found the training difficult, but she said it was completely worth it. “It was an amazing run,” she said. “Beautiful scenery, the people on the side of the road were so encouraging and giving you olive branches.” Anthony has never worried about how long it takes her to run the marathon, or where she places, but more about the experience and finishing the race. She’s already looking forward to her next run. “I’d like to do a few more. I’d love to do it with my daughter,” said Anthony. “Imagine going near the water or Diamond Head in Honolulu, or the War Veterans (Memorial) in Belgium; the history of Athens was incredible. How do you not love it and take it all in?”

Garry Shultz in Hong Kong.

Come for the run!

Stay for the fun!




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Tom McNall By: Julie Folk

Diabetes can be a challenge. But it’s one competition Tom, Ryan, and Shawn McNall have faced together.


our McNalls on the golf course together can be interesting. While many sports have a family connection, golf is one game in which the family can play together – from young kids to grandparents. Tom McNall has certainly passed on his love of the game to his three sons Ryan, Shawn, and Tyler.

“It’s nice having the three boys to play with,” said Tom, who also encouraged his daughter Lindsay to golf, but she didn’t have as much interest. “It’s a great sport and a way of bonding.” Tom’s own golf game began when his parents took him to the Regina Golf Club when he was nine years old. There, he began playing with Bob Turner and a friend, and grew to love the game and his rounds on the course. He took on a job in the pro shop, and soon began his competitive career. He remembers golfing as a 14 year old in an interprovincial competition in Winnipeg at the St. Charles Golf Course. He qualified as the south Saskatchewan representative for the next five years, and had the opportunity to continue to play at the prestigious club. “The very first year I went, Gordie Howe was there for

22 June 2011

Eaton’s, who was a sponsor,” said Tom. “At the banquet at the St. Charles, (he) was shaking everybody’s hand. When you’re 14 years old – Gordie Howe – wow, that was impressive.” Tom’s competitive career also brought him opportunities beyond golf. “In ’66 I played in the Saskatchewan Amateur, and I played Gail’s dad (Bob Stovin),” said Tom. “He beat me, and then went on to play Ernie Greenley in the 36hole final. He brought out his wife and four daughters, and Gail was in that grouping. I spotted her, did my research, and found out she went to Sheldon. One thing led to another, and five years later we got married and that’s where our life began with the family.” In 1979, Tom made the provincial team, which was always his first objective. That same year, he joined the Wascana Country Club and began to progress in his golf career. The next ten years – from 1979 to 1989 – were what he says were his most competitive years, when he played with the provincial team, finishing first, second, third, fifth twice, seventh twice, and tenth twice throughout those years. He also won the Wascana’s club championship a recordsetting nine times, finishing as runner up six times. He had fun playing in partner events as well. When Dick Fraser was alive, they played in the team championship at Saskatoon’s Riverside Course for 18 years, and in the left/right competition in Melfort for 13 years. McNall’s competition is on a different level now.

“We go out and play for two dollars a side,” he said. “We did that in 1970, so two dollars is nothing – it’s just bragging rights. Every course has different tee markings, and while I find I can hit the ball far enough to play from the gold (tees), the place I like playing from now is the blues, and soon I’ll be moving onto the whites – and I’m OK with that. I’m still playing, and still enjoying it.” In 1980, another dimension was added to Tom’s golf game, as well as his life as a whole, when he was diagnosed as a diabetic. After trying to control diabetes with a diet and then diabetic pills, he was put on insulin. “You have to watch your diet, you have to exercise, take insulin, and you have to be more careful because diabetes is the cause for heart attacks and strokes. It’s just a healthy lifestyle,” said Tom.

(L-R) Ryan, Tom, and Shawn McNall. Tom had lived with diabetes for 13 years when his son Ryan, then 16, was diagnosed as a diabetic in 1993. Ryan and his brothers had begun golfing as kids when Tom took them out to the Lakeview Par 3 Golf Course, and they later moved on to join the Wascana Country Club as juniors. Ryan and Shawn began playing competitive golf and provincial tournaments. With diabetes, it’s important to control sugar levels. Activity is recommended and encouraged, but it also means regulating food and insulin intake in a different way. Too much exercise can bring your sugar levels down, and a large part is educating yourself and planning. “It can be an obstacle – you have to watch sugar lows,” said Ryan. “Tournaments, if you get stressed out or are nervous, it can drop your sugar level pretty quick. If you’re coming down the last couple of holes in an amateur (tournament) looking for a team spot, and your sugar levels go down, it can be difficult. If you’re golfing day to day, it’s not a big deal, but in tournaments when pressure comes into play, it can be difficult. I don’t use it as an excuse, but it’s part of my life. If you have a reaction, you deal with it.” Four years ago, Shawn was also diagnosed as a diabetic. He and Ryan are both insulin-dependent, like Tom. A large part of the diagnosis is education, so it helped them to know how Tom dealt with his diabetes.

“Every day you have to know what you’re going to be doing later, because when you’re active, insulin reacts differently than if you are sitting at a desk all day,” said Shawn. “I don’t want to be caught in the middle of the golf course and have a sugar low – you just don’t operate the same.”

Diabetes by no means holds anyone back from activity. Every person has slightly different reactions to food and insulin. For example, Shawn finds when he golf, his sugar levels drop much more quickly than if he is playing hockey. The important thing is to be prepared for a sugar low, and planning out insulin and food for the day. Diabetes by no means holds anyone back from activity – many professional athletes, such as Scott Verplank on the PGA Tour, Brandon Morrow who pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays, or John Chick who played with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, have all excelled in their sporting careers while managing diabetes. It’s just a matter of dealing with it. “It’s educating yourself,” said Tom. “Probably a lot of young kids wonder – why me? Then once you get over that, you have to deal with it. It’s healthy eating, exercise, and really looking after yourself and educating yourself. It’s a nuisance and it gets to the point where it’s frustrating, but on the good side, it’s better than the alternative.”

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Forming a Riot By: Julie Folk

The Regina Riot is gaining momentum.


hat started as a few voices expressing the desire to grow and change has become a field full of those wanting to make a difference and start something new, with sideline support urging them on and helping them reach the pinnacle of the movement.

Like its namesake, the Regina Riot women’s tackle football team has developed quickly in a short amount of time. The team that began with seven people around a table discussing an idea has resulted in 36 women suiting up for the first time in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League. “We’ve been trying to build our touch league for years,” said player Chera Sloan. “The first practice we came out to, it was like, ‘where did all these girls come from?’ Once you throw the word ‘tackle’ in front of it, people want to play.” After the initial meeting about the team, the Riot held an information session, Football 101 and Chalk Talk, followed by two indoor practices. Women between the ages of 16 and 46 have come out to play with the team – an opportunity they have never had before. “There are all different backgrounds,” said Melissa Park, general manager. “We have a lot of girls who have played hockey, soccer, softball, and a lot of

24 June 2011

girls who have wrestled who are some of our best tacklers. There are a number of girls who have played in the Regina Touch Football League who have come over to play tackle. And we have some without sporting backgrounds.” A few of the players have played tackle football with high school teams or in Regina Minor Football. What the Riot would like to do is inspire the development and interest of female football at the minor level so that there eventually is a system for girls to play in. With the filling of the roster was also the search for coaches for the Riot. Jon Baxter had coached football for 15 years, including five years with the RMF Bantam Dinos, and came over with his coaching staff to help with the Riot. He said it’s been a learning process for both the coaches and the players, but things are coming together well. “There’s a lot of experience in (sports and fitness), but when it came to hitting, it was all brand new. They picked up quickly,” said Baxter. “I had to re-evaulate how to motivate. Women have a heavy protective instinct, so we draw on that.” Most of the players came into football with general knowledge of the game, although certain rules make more sense once players are on the field.

“Learning the rules has been the hardest transition,” said Park. “What’s holding? Who can move on the line and who can’t? What’s my role when blocking? If I’m running a pattern, what am I doing if I’m not getting (the ball)? Those types of things you can watch on TV but until you actually do it... but the coaches have found us not having a foundation has made it easier to develop the players, because nobody comes into it with any bad habits. It actually makes it that much better because they’re more coachable.” Because few of the players had previously played tackle football, the coaches also had to make decisions on positions for each player. Within a few practices they determined positions through body type and ability. The players have not only become used to their responsibilities on the field, but have formed friendships and close bonds with those within their positional groups. “It’s amazing,” said Leanne Shirkey, who has also been with the team since its first meeting. “You have 12 players on the field – what other sport do women play with that many teammates on the field? There are women on the team that I don’t know because they’re on offense and I’m on the defensive line.”


The Riot and Saskatoon Valkyrie are the two expansion teams in the league that is in its third year. In May, the Riot took part in a jamboree held in Saskatoon, and came away with two wins and two losses, and a definite improvement in their play as a team. Baxter said every down in every practice and every game, the team continues to get better. It’s also a team that has goals extending to not only this season, but beyond. “This team will be around for awhile, if we have anything to do with it,” said Shirkey. “We want something that’s going to linger.” While many women have multiple commitments from work to family lives, football has become a priority and a passion for those participating. “I haven’t missed a practice yet,” said Sloan. “We all have lives. We have children, jobs, all of that kind of stuff, but every Wednesday, everyone’s here. The funniest thing was I walked out on the football field and there was a stroller in the huddle. I laughed so hard, because where else would you see that? But everybody does what they can to get here. The commitment is awesome.” The toughness of the players and the competitiveness has certainly driven the team forward. There are few contact sports available to women, and most of the players with the Riot would agree that having the tackle element is one of the reasons they were drawn to the team. When the Riot played their first game in the jamboree – hitting people on other teams rather than their own – it increased their enjoyment of the sport that much more. Community support continues to grow for the team that plays two home games this year – they lost to the Saskatoon Valkyrie

26 June 2011

on May 22, and will take on the Manitoba Fearless on June 12. RMF has helped with equipment and support, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have aided in whatever way they can, and many sponsors have come on board to help the team develop. CFL players such as Marcus Adams and Paul Woldu, and Roughrider alumni like Dan Farthing have also assisted with the team. The Riot continues to grow and build. They won’t be silenced, but will gain momentum as they develop each season, each game, and each down of football. For more information, see www.wix. com/reginariotfootball/reginariot,, find them on Facebook, or follow them on twitter @ReginaRiotWWCFL.

support staff Jon Baxter – Head Coach Kris Davis – DL Coach Rick Davis – O. Coordinator Tim Douville – WR Coach Darren Fisher – OL Coach Kris Hadesbeck – LB Coach Crystal Thiessen – WR Coach Dwight Vanstone – DB Coach Amanda Schnieder – Trainer Justin Duong – Equipment Manager Melissa Park – General Manager Thomas Retzlaff – Documentary Photos by Maurice Laprairie

regina riot roster Joelle Aldridge – DB Diane Allen – DL Karen Almasi - DL Erin Banbury – RB Made Bouwer - WR Ciara Bray – LB Teisha Bray - RB Clare Dore – WR Angie Douville - DE Jennifer Fahlman – DB Kaitlin Fisher – OL Jessica Gawley – RB Pam Grzyb – OL Tracy Guidry - DB Emma Hicks – OL Sherry Hill – DL Trisha Jattansingh - OL Coral Koop Aimee Kowalski - QB Dayna Krenbrink – OL Sarah Mercer - LB Lee Millar - DL Paige Mitchell – DB Shelby Moran – LB Rhonda Morse - WR Bonnie Riffel – OL Kelly Schwartz - WR Tania Sentes - OL Leanne Shirkey – DE Chera Sloan – OL Bonnie Soerensen - DB Louise Sumner – QB Wanda Uhren - DB Kim Woycik – WR Lisa Zielger – WR Adrienne Zuck – S

Urban Challenge C

anoeing, trail running, mountain biking, and running come together in the YMCA Urban Challenge presented by Affinity Credit Union. While you can choose to go at it alone, it is also a challenge that can be shared as a team – while raising money for the YMCA Strong Kids/Youth Program and having a little fun at the same time. Jamie Petty has participated in the Challenge since the mid-nineties, when the event was the Echo Lake Challenge, raising money for the YMCA’s Camp Ta-Wa-Si. She moved with the event into Regina last year, when she participated with her family. “I grew up in the Y, so I’ve continued as an adult,” she said. “I believe in what the Y does, the programs they have, and the support they give to underprivileged kids and families.” This year the Urban Challenge will take place June 18 around Wascana Lake and

Douglas Park. There is a small minimum amount each team has to fundraise, although Patrick Ash, general manager HFR/ Membership the YMCA, said that most teams raise more. The YMCA raises about $250,000 each year for the Strong Kids program, which allows underprivileged children and families access to YMCA programs. While there is a slight competitive aspect, most people register to support the program and to have some fun.

“The main crowd we’re trying to get out is people who want to come out to do the activity,” said Ash. “There are definitely some teams that want to come in and compete – often there are workplaces that challenge each other or groups of friends. But the whole idea is to have fun.”

Petty’s teams have always entered for fun. She, herself, has done various events, from swimming when it was at Echo Lake, to biking and running. Her team numbers change from year to year, as teams can include up to five people, while some choose to do the event solo.

In addition to the various sporting events, Ash said that there will be a few obstacles on the running portion, and teams will collect puzzle pieces along the way, which they will fit together at the finish line. “The thing that stands out is the camaraderie,” said Petty. “It’s a lot of fun, and just trying to keep it going and get new participants. It’s a good day.” For more information, see

This year a family division was incorporated into the challenge. “It’s nice to expose kids to that kind of stuff,” said Petty. “It shows them what it’s about, and it’s fundraising for a good cause. It keeps kids socially minded.”

Race Stages Canoe or Kayak – 3 km Trail Run – 3 km Trail Ride – 8 km Run – 4 km


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Paintball By: Julie Folk

There’s a battle going on.


uns fire shots as the warriors take aim and fire, while others scramble for safety. In bursts of orange, yellow, and red, people go down, marked by their opponents’ “bullets.” It’s paintball – a game that takes place as a mock battle, and has become popular for those looking for a fun day with a group of friends, to those who take the sport more seriously and play in leagues. Nelson Hackewich, Kelly Joe Ward, Warren Ward, Tegan Beattie, Kurtis Sanderson, Larry Slatford, and Kaitlyn Secuur set out on a rainy day to fight to the finish in a 3-on-3 battle, guns loaded with air and paint. While some, such as Kelly Joe, have played thousands of games, others are new to the sport. But it doesn’t matter the experience level – it’s how good of a shot you are and how well you can hide and outsmart the opponent. The game continues as players are taken out by shots to the goggles, the leg, and the side. This game ended with a one-on-one rush and a winner. Nelson Hackewich became involved in the game at the age of

28 June 2011

eight when his dad, Lance, brought him to a team practice. “I was hooked from then on out and have been playing ever since,” said Hackewich. “I love the rush that I get every time I play the game... It consumes you and once you are hooked you want to play more.” Lance Hackewich was one of the founding members of the Hell Hounds, one of Regina’s first and most successful paintball teams to this day. Their team has always been based around the fun of the game, and

growing the sport of paintball. Paintball and paintball markers (the guns) were first used in 1940 by farmers to mark cattle and foresters to mark trees. By the late ’60s the first air powered paintball marker was manufactured, and twenty years later, 12 people got together for the first paintball game. The first commercial paintball field was opened and became a sport in New Hampshire in 1962. Regina’s paintball scene began when Les Engen opened Paintball Paradise. Teams

began playing in the early 1990s, and in 1993 the Canadian National Speedball Championship was held in Regina. “This was a big step in launching the popularity of the sport of paintball in Regina, as it allowed for an audience to see not only some of the best paintball players in Canada, but in the U.S. as well,” said Hackewich. “The Nationals were hosted in this city until ’95. In 1998, the Police and Fire Canam games were held in the city and paintball was one of the 45 events that took place at the games.” As paintball has grown, many more fields have opened in the area. While many participate in paintball as a sport, it is just as popular for team windups, birthday parties, and stag and stagettes, as a team building activity. There is mandatory equipment, as well as rules and referees.

“I love the rush that I get every time I play the game.” - Nelson Hackewich “Paintball is really for everyone, if you are 12 or 86,” said Hackewich. “There have even been some wheelchair paintball tournaments in the city. It is fun, it helps build character and teamwork, and paintball is safe. So get in on the fun!” And the question I asked – does it hurt? The paintball can leave a bruise, that’s for sure – but no more than any other contact sport. Leagues in the province include the Saskatchewan Paintball Championships Circuit in Prince Albert and the Prairie Speedball League in Saskatoon. Nationally there is the Canadian Professional Paintball League, the Canadian Scenario Paintball Players League, and the Canadian X-Ball League to name a few. The National Professional Paintball League is a series broadcasted on ESPN. How to get involved in Regina? Contact one of the local fields and inquire about playing. They can direct you to a team or invite you out to play.



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such a time is now to worry and hope By Bob Hughes


his is the time of the year when the Loyal Disorder of Rider Priders dance to the joined tunes of Nightmarish Moments and Lots of Hope. It’s a time for fantasies and just knowing that the wishbone will break in their favour. It is the time of the year when the good, the bad and the ugly race through the brain faster than Secretariat with a 26-length lead in the Kentucky Derby. “I can’t see how the Riders won’t be in the Grey Cup this year, and this time they will win it,” spurts the eternally optimistic John Frenzy who, in my memory, has never picked the Riders to miss the playoffs, not even throughout the Reign of Error. “They’ve got one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the Canadian Football League,” said another member of the Loyal Disorder. “How can they be anything but Grey Cup contenders?” Everybody take a deep breath. Because we are almost there. The season of great change is upon us. Come June 17, the fruits of the off-season will begin to spill forth onto the make believe tundra of Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field when the Saskatchewan Roughriders play their first pre-season game against the Edmonton Eskimos. The braintrust, from president and CEO Jim Hopson down to general manager Brendan Taman and VP of football operations Ken Miller to head coach Greg Marshall, all will get to look in the mirror. Since Hopson took over as the commander in chief of the Roughriders, it’s basically been all good. He brought respect to the team’s shaky image and hired Eric Tillman as GM, who shook the roster to its very foundation. And, then, in a stroke of genius or luck, or perhaps even both, he hired Kent Austin as head coach. The end result was a Grey Cup victory right off the hop, sold out games in Taylor Field, and the beginning to the most amazing marketing story in Canadian Football League history. And yet there have been some slightly shaky moments. Not of earthquake power, just little tremors here and there. Austin left after the one season. Ken Miller replaced him, and got the Riders to back-to-back Grey Cup games, one

30 June 2011

where they lost because they couldn’t count, one where they lost because they didn’t have the talent to win. There has been this emerging feeling that the Roughriders have lived, in large part, of what Tillman and Austin did their first year. Austin made them instant winners. Tillman brought in the kind of talent that allowed them to be instant winners, building substantially on what his predecessor Roy Shivers had built before him. But who have Tillman’s successors brought in that would not only keep them in the upper echelon of the league, but allow them to improve on what they already had, which is the key to any dynasty? Last season they lost defensive stalwarts Stevie Baggs and John Chick to the NFL, and never really replaced them. They tried to cover it up with one of the most bizarre defensive schemes ever seen in the CFL, and it didn’t work. This season, they are looking to replace their best receiver, Andy Fantuz, who skipped to the NFL’s Chicago Bears. They don’t have any real idea how kicker Lucas Congi will come off a severe knee injury. And who knows how receiver Rob Bagg will come back from his knee injury? Fantuz, Bagg and Congi were three big forces in the thread that tied together the Riders’ offence. It’s so hard to say what the Riders have accomplished in the off-season because although they have announced a plethora of signings, even they don’t know for sure how they will perform when the shooting is for real. But, the biggest question mark will be head coach Greg Marshall. He has never stood on the sidelines as a head coach during a long CFL career as an assistant. Ask Richie Hall about doing that. It’s a whole new world where the biggest thing is how you lead the team through the season and react during the heat of games. Marshall has the background and a masters’ degree in coaching, but now he’s at the helm and it’s a whole new ball game. It’s one of the reasons the coming of the season has grabbed the attention of the Loyal Disorder of Rider Priders from all four corners of the province, and everywhere in between. As the doctor said after the fourth Dionne baby had been born, “Stay tuned. This thing ain’t over with yet.” Y’er welcome. Column photo by Maurice Laprairie

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