Published June 18, 2016 15:45
Roughly 60 boys and girls from various Winnipeg social agencies got the thrill of a lifetime when country music superstar Garth Brooks showed up Saturday at Notre Dame Recreation Centre to play ball hockey with them.
The ProCamp was part of the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation, which provides scholarships for underprivileged children allowing them to attend ProCamps Sports Camps, hosted by some of the biggest names in pro sports. Saturday’s camp featured Winnipeg Jets goaltender Mike Hutchinson and Winnipeg native and Florida Panthers forward Quinton Howden.
As part of Brooks’ world tour, there is a “Teammates ProCamp” during each tour stop. Camps are free to the participants from the organizations selected to attend and are led by various professional athletes and coaches. Over the last 12 years, some 4,000 male and female athletes from various sports have taken part in the ProCamps.
“I don’t know if it’s giving back because I’m the guy taking the most out of here,” Brooks said. “You watch these kids and it rejuvenates you.”
Brooks admits he doesn’t mind that many of the kids were more interested in seeing the pro athletes than him.
“The whole message today is about love and believing in yourself and these two cats can do that better than anybody,” said Brooks, pointing to Howden and Hutchinson. “When they start talking, the kids get really focussed and that’s when you know this camp is doing its job.”
It wasn’t just the kids who got a kick out of Saturday’s ProCamp.
“To have a camp like this where you can meet new people and have fun meeting other people is an experience that I know the kids will remember and I will too,” Howden said.
“To be here for even three hours, you never know how three hours can change a kid’s life,” added Hutchinson.
The boys and girls ages 9-13 were drawn from the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg, Daniel McIntyre St. Matthews Community Association, Sport Manitoba, Macdonald Youth Services, and Youth Agencies Alliance.
Hutchinson admitted to being a little star-struck in the presence of Brooks, one of his idols.
“I’m definitely a huge fan of Garth’s so this is a cool experience for me,” Hutchinson said. “I’m sure I’ll have to get something signed for the girlfriend or else I’ll be in trouble when I get home.”