The Red Deer Rebels all shaved their heads in support of assistant coach Brad Flynn’s fiancée, Christine who was diagnosed with cancer in April. (Twitter Photo)

Red Deer Rebels shave heads to support assistant coach’s cancer-stricken fiancée

Players shaved their heads to support Brad Flynn’s fiancée, Christine

It was perhaps a small gesture, but it came in the biggest of moments.

As the Red Deer Rebels hit the ice Tuesday against the Saskatoon Blades, there were just a few minutes where anyone might have noticed a difference with the players.

The flowing locks that many among the group loved to sport were gone– instead replaced with uniform, military-like shaved heads, all for a cause much bigger than themselves.

The players decided on Sunday that they would shave their heads in support of Christine, assistant coach Brad Flynn’s fiancée, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last April.

“It was a shock because she was 30 and even when we saw the preliminary results, doctors were kind of skeptical because of her age. They thought the chances were very low. She ended up being diagnosed,” said Flynn.

“So we’ve just been dealing with it since then. She’s on the road to recovery. She had chemotherapy and has radiation coming up.”

She had just started with chemotherapy this summer and wasn’t feeling up to attending the team’s kickoff barbecue on Monday, but when she did, a group of teenagers she barely knows all showed up with buzzcuts in support.

“I talked to (Dawson Barteaux) and (Ethan Sakowich) about it, they said (Christine) was the reasoning behind it. I was touched,” Flynn said.

“For a lot of people, I think it’s easy to forget when you’re a teenage boy, how important your hair is because it’s about status and profile. So for me, it might seem like a small thing, I do know the sacrifice these kids made to do that.

“That’s what meant the most to me and Christine. She wasn’t even going to come to the function because she’s a little self-conscious. Then she had 25 teenage boys that wanted to make her feel included and really raised her spirits.”

Alternate captain Ethan Sakowich, who scored the Rebels’ game-winning goal in their first home win of the 2019-20 season Tuesday, said it was an easy decision to shave their heads and the whole team bought in almost immediately.

“I think it showed even (Tuesday) we played more as a team. Some small thing we can do, it means the world to Flynner and his family,” Sakowich said.

“Me and (Dawson Barteaux) were talking the night before, it was a spur of the moment, we were joking that we should get buzzcuts. Then we decided we should do it for a reason and we should get the whole team behind it. Once we found the reason, it was the perfect reason.”

Sakowich, who has played 210 games in a Rebels uniform, said the gesture simply showed how much of a family both the team and the organization are.

“We’re a family here. It’s a small thing we can do, it shows our support and I’m happy we did it, I’m really proud of the guys,” Sakowich said.

Sometimes lost in the shuffle of day-to-day operations for a major junior hockey team is the fact the players are still teenagers, even if they absorb criticism or roles in the community above and beyond that scope.

“It was very touching for me and for her and it just goes to show to me the character, the culture and that Brent Sutter and the Red Deer Rebels establish here,” Flynn said.

“When I talked to Brent before he hired me, the first thing he talked about is he wants good people here– whether it’s the staff or players, I think the proof is in the pudding when it comes to the players because not a lot of teenage boys would go out of their way for someone they’ve never even talked to.”

Flynn said he’s proud of both how the team stepped up in support of his family and also of Christine, for how she’s stepped up to this challenge and faced it head-on.

“As of right now, everything seems to be trending in the right direction, so we’re just trying to stay positive,” he said.



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg coming to Alberta

Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg is coming to Alberta. The teen announced… Continue reading

Drumheller RCMP seize guns, cash, arrest two

Drumheller RCMP arrest a man and a woman and seize five restricted… Continue reading

Red Deer oilfield related company shutting doors after 25 years

Arresting You Ltd., a safety services provider in Red Deer, is shutting… Continue reading

Party leaders out on campaign trail Sunday turn focus to Toronto

OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is focusing his attention today on… Continue reading

Investigation requested into death of man in RCMP custody in Sask,

ONION LAKE, Sask. — The RCMP say a young man has died… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: How to pose in photos

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Man and child found dead after house fire in Manitoba early Saturday

NORWAY HOUSE, Man. — Police say a man and a child have… Continue reading

Thousands still without power after snow storm hammers Manitoba

WINNIPEG — It could be days before Manitoba Hydro is able to… Continue reading

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

Trudeau dons protective vest as security threat delays Toronto-area rally

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took extraordinary safety precautions at… Continue reading

Rewards for good behaviour part of school-violence prevention: teachers’ union

VANCOUVER — Hearing about the stabbing death of a 14-year-old boy outside… Continue reading

Wood pulp, steel cables: Scientists study how to make ice roads last longer

The road should have been frozen solid, but it was anything but.… Continue reading

RDC Kings hang on for win over MacEwan University Griffins

A night after Marc-Olivier Daigle stole a win, the RDC Kings exacted… Continue reading

Most Read