By: Mike Still
While 16-year old Scott Chaddock may not be listed on the roster, he is still very much a part of the Dalhousie men’s hockey team.
His relationship with the squad began last year, when he encountered a few of the players at one of the Special Tigers Day events. The program, which began in 2012, gives individuals with developmental disabilities – such as Chaddock – an opportunity to learn and play sports with varsity student-athletes from Dalhousie.
Chaddock quickly gravitated towards team members Luke Madill, Fabian Walsh, Mike Evelyn and Colton Parsons, and asked if they wanted to accompany himself and April MacQueen – Chaddock’s former tutor who had begun taking him to the program events– for lunch at Harvey’s the end of one of the sessions.
While they were unable to at the time, MacQueen – who had known Chaddock and his family for years – came up with a solution: attend the next men’s hockey home game. In October of 2015, Chaddock made the trek with MacQueen to the Halifax Forum for the first time.
He had a great time, and after the game, the players immediately recognized him and said hi.
“It quickly became that he wanted to go to every game and wanted me to take him,” says MacQueen.
From that point on, Chaddock became a staple at the Forum and has stated that he is the team’s “biggest fan.”
“His positive attitude is infectious. If you’re going out after a bad period, he’s at the door waiting to give you a high five and he’s loving it and happy to be there,” says Madill.
“It puts a smile on your face and makes you realize how lucky you are to be going out and playing when not everybody has that opportunity.”
Chaddock’s friendship with the team came full circle at the end of last season, when MacQueen and the squad made arrangements to meet him at Harvey’s, as a surprise thank you for his dedication.
An ever-increasing bond
Their bond has grown even stronger this year. For example, Madill, Walsh and Corbin Boes joined him for mini-golf to celebrate his 16th birthday, while numerous players have also met up with him to go bowling as well as play laser tag.
“They’ve embraced him almost like a little brother,” says Chaddock’s mom, Wanda Ferguson. “For them to take time out of their schedules, it’s really neat.”
Evelyn noted that the relationship the team has with Chaddock has been reciprocal.
“It sort of puts life in perspective and helps you look at the bigger picture. If you’re not having a good day, or you’re feeling a little off, you realize you can have that big of an impact on somebody’s life just by being there,” he says.
“Scotty doesn’t ask anything of us other than some of our time, so it’s pretty awesome to be able to make someone’s day, just by being you.”
Chaddock has been loud and proud at every home game this season so far as well, and his passion has extended past being just a fan. This Christmas for example, he asked for, and received a pair of hockey skates, while Madill also supplied him with his first hockey stick.
Ferguson said he was “ecstatic” coming through the door with the item from Madill.
Chaddock gave back to the team during the holiday season as well, providing each player with a Christmas ornament and card.
For Walsh, the joy that has come from being a part of Chaddock’s life is heartwarming.
“We were all kids once too and we all looked up to older hockey players and if we can be that role model for Scotty then we’re more than happy to do so,” he says.