It takes a village - Shawn Loughlin Editorial
There was a tremendous feeling of jubilation last week throughout Huron County when Hockey Canada announced its men’s Olympic roster. Justin Peters, a Blyth native now playing in Germany, is one of three goalies on the team.
While it was no doubt thrilling for Justin to be able to represent his country once again (he had done it at a number of levels before, but never the Olympics), there was just this sense of pride throughout Blyth (and visible on social media throughout the county) that one of our own would be lacing up his skates in the Olympics for his country.
It certainly was the talk of the town just hours after it had been announced. Justin has been playing in Germany this season after toggling between the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League since 2008 and before that he was in the Ontario Hockey League for a number of years.
I live two houses down from Jeff and Janice, Justin’s parents, and have always counted myself lucky. After news broke of Alex (another of their sons) playing on the Flint Firebirds and playing a part in a number of stories (the mass walkout of the players that made national news, his involvement in the troubled Flint community and winning the Mickey Renaud Captain’s Trophy) I always thought it was neat to see this hockey star practising on his parents’ driveway when I would drive home from work at night. Just to think of how adored Alex was in the Flint community and here, Blyth had him rollerblading on his driveway practising his craft.
That has really been the story of famous folks with roots in our communities. They always have time for their hometowns and they always come back when the circumstances are right.
So, when Justin was named to the Olympic squad last week, it felt like a victory for many. There are teachers in the community who would remember teaching him at Blyth Public School and gym teachers who saw his potential in early physical competition when he was just a child.
There would be his old hockey coaches and those who remember playing alongside him on the streets of Blyth or in the Blyth Minor Hockey system and friends he has made along the way.
Hell, he has a poutine named after him at the Cowbell restaurant. If naming a poutine after someone isn’t the best way to honour a Canadian, I’m not sure what is.
Yes, it felt like when Justin was named to that Olympic team that we all had a little bit more of a reason to get up really early in the morning to watch Canada’s games next month – not that most of us weren’t going to do that already. But to be able to cheer on someone you know, someone you’ve met or someone with whom you grew up adds that extra thrill.
Predominantly, however, I would imagine that most people will be happy for Justin and his family.
To get this opportunity after such a long and difficult road through the world of professional hockey must truly be affirmation of all of his hard work and perseverance throughout the years.
Congratulations to Justin and the Peters family. You truly deserve to enjoy this moment.
Now, Justin and his teammates have a job to do for us as Canadians. And we’ll all be rooting for him here at home next month.