Briercrest Clippers assist on and off the ice
The Briercrest College and Seminary Clippers hockey team turned a recent road trip to Minot State University into an opportunity to help some flood victims in the North Dakota community.
“We thought maybe it would be a good idea to just give back a little bit,” Coach Terry Dyck said. “Let these guys know it’s not all about taking. There are people whose lives have been completely destroyed.”
The Clippers, who had committed to the exhibition hockey games last year, faced a challenge when it came to finding a place to stay in Minot. Many of the displaced people, along with construction workers, are occupying all the area’s hotel rooms.
“We found a church that had converted some of its Sunday school rooms into bunk houses during this time,” Dyck explained. “So we just offered through our contact at the church to be available to help out in any way we can. We played at 6:30 (Saturday) evening, so we gave probably two and a half to three hours of work.”
The church the Clippers bunked in – Trinity Evangelical Free – has several people from its congregation, including the senior pastor, who have been displaced by the flood.
“We had some guys help (the pastor) for the day,” Dyck recalled. “There was a lady in the church that came by – three or four guys went with her and were ripping up floor board.”
The rest of the 22 team members worked with a relief agency that was ripping dry wall out of two homes that were ruined in the flood.
“I think everyone was able to see what the devastation was,” Dyck said. “There were mud lines that were eight to 10 feet up the houses. It got hit hard. It kind of reminded me of the pictures I saw of the Lower Ninth in New Orleans. These are people’s lives that have been just destroyed.”
The Clippers didn’t publicize anything about their afternoon of service. But good news gets around. One of the people the team helped sent an email to Minot State.
“I was kind of surprised,” Dyck said. “We didn’t want to make a big deal. We just wanted to help and then leave.”
Shortly after the team returned home to Caronport, Wade Regier, head hockey coach for Minot State, sent an email to Briercrest president Dwayne Uglem and athletic director Stan Peters.
“The reason why I am emailing you is because this morning I was informed, your young men provided a service project to help a flooded victim on Saturday,” wrote Regier. “Certainly a team could have used that time to rest up and prepare for a hockey game. However, Terry and the hockey program went to the next level to help out someone in need. Often, these things become unnoticed but the family you helped was very grateful. I wanted to make sure you knew what an upstanding coach and program you have representing you.”
Besides strengthening the relationship between Briercrest and Minot State, the few hours given to help a few displaced people also had a lasting impact on the Briercrest hockey players.
“My eyes were opened to what the community in Minot has gone through,” Clipper teammate Josh Dufresne said. “I feel so grateful for having my own place to stay, especially now. It’s something that’s so easy to take for granted. I know my family hasn't gone through a disaster like that and I can't imagine what that must've been like for those people. It felt really good to serve those people and take a little weight off their shoulders. I think our team as a whole got a lot out of that experience.”
“The work we did in Minot was a humbling experience,” teammate Josh Gustafson exclaimed. “Seeing the amount of devastation that happened to all those homes down there made you realize how quickly everything that you own can be taken from you. It was also satisfying being able to help those people out, even though we were only able to help for a little while, the people were really grateful and as a team it was nice to be able to give something back to them. Part of being a Briercrest athlete is being men of integrity and character, and I think this was an experience that helps push us toward that goal. Every one of the guys was happy to help out.”