Rose and her Ti­cats

How a foot­ball team gave a trans­planted Hamil­to­nian hope as she faced a tough chal­lenge

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS

As Rose Chase bat­tled can­cer last year, two things gave her hope: Fam­ily. And get­ting back to Tim Hor­tons Field to see her beloved TigerCats.

Born and raised in Hamil­ton — she went to high school at Scott Park, just steps from old Ivor Wynne Sta­dium — Chase has been a sea­son-ticket holder since 1982, shortly af­ter her then-boyfriend took her to her very first game.

“I was hooked right from the start. I thought ‘This is the best,’” says Chase, now 54. “Then we started go­ing to Grey Cups, away games once a year … it just con­tin­ued from there.”

The boyfriend be­came her hus­band and they had two kids, a boy and girl, and they went to games

too. Over the years, they de­vel­oped re­la­tion­ships with some of the Ti­cat play­ers, guys like Wally Zatylny, Earl Win­field and Grover Cov­ing­ton (she also found Greg Elling­son’s phone at Grey Cup once but that’s a whole other story).

“Grover used to live in our build­ing and used to make fun of me when I was preg­nant,” Chase says. “He’d say ‘Is there room for me on this el­e­va­tor?’”

Six years ago, Chase got a job op­por­tu­nity in Cal­gary that was too good to pass up. Her chil­dren were grown so she moved out west — but hung on to her sea­son tick­ets, usu­ally at­tend­ing about four games a year.

“I go home for as many games as I can — al­ways Labour Day,” she says. “When the play­ers did the hel­met salute at the first game at Tim Hor­tons Field, it gave me goose­bumps. It gives me goose­bumps just talk­ing about it now.”

Then last May, just as the foot­ball sea­son was set to get un­der­way, Chase re­ceived a dev­as­tat­ing di­ag­no­sis: lung can­cer. Two months later, she had surgery, then quickly be­gan 16 weeks of gru­elling chemo­ther­apy.

“Chemo is some­thing that brings you to death’s door so you have to fo­cus on some­thing to get through it.” Chase says. “You don’t what to ex­pect or what you have to look for­ward to, so you just con­cen­trate on what’s im­por­tant to you.

“For me, it was my fam­ily and foot­ball.”

When the Ti­cats learned Chase was ill — she has got to know team CEO Scott Mitchell over the years — they reached out to of­fer their sup­port. Quar­ter­back Zach Col­laros sent a signed photo along with a getwell mes­sage.

So last week, with the team prac­tis­ing in Cal­gary for Fri­day night’s con­test in Ed­mon­ton (for full de­tails on the game visit 3Down­Na­tion.com), Chase came to Ernest Manning high school to watch the team in ac­tion and de­liver a sim­ple mes­sage: Thanks.

She spoke to head coach Kent Austin for about 10 min­utes.

“I re­ally be­lieve this team helped me get through the last year,” she says.

Now a year re­moved from surgery, Chase is cau­tiously op­ti­mistic about her re­cov­ery. Best of all, she’s well enough to travel again and will travel to Hamil­ton in Septem­ber to take in the Labour Day game at Tim Hor­tons Field.

“Af­ter ev­ery­thing I’ve been through, it will be so spe­cial to be there again” Chase says. “Some­thing else to look for­ward to.”

DREW ED­WARDS, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Rose Chase and Ti­cats’ head coach Kent Austin. Rose says her beloved team gave her vi­tal in­spi­ra­tion as she bat­tled lung can­cer.

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