HITMEN CENTRE HONOURED FOR HUMANITARIANISM
WHL recognizes the importance of Fiddler-schultz’s work in the community
Just hours after being saluted as the Western Hockey League’s Humanitarian of the Year, Calgary Hitmen centre Riley Fiddler-schultz was busy organizing a virtual bingo game with kids from the Boys & Girls Club. Fitting.
“And that’s another initiative that came straight from him,” Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth said. “It’s not us saying, ‘Hey, by the way Fidds ... ’ He came up with this. It’s just another thing that shows you who he really is.”
There are a lot of Whlers doing their darnedest to make a difference in the community, but Fiddler-schultz has certainly gone the extra mile.
He’ll have his name engraved on the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy as proof of it. The 17-year-old from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., is now also a finalist for the national nod as the Canadian Hockey League’s Kia Humanitarian of the Year.
“It’s a real honour for me and my family to receive such a great award,” Fiddler-schultz said after Tuesday’s announcement. “My parents (Evan and Bobbi-jo) always instilled in me that you want to give back as much as you can, especially when you’re put in a position like I am … Whenever you’re doing all these things, the thought on your mind is never, ‘Oh, I hope I win the humanitarian award.’
“It’s just trying to do what I can to help out the community and be a role model for all these kids. But it’s nice to get that recognition.”
It was during a dinner-table conversation that Fiddler-schultz and his mother came up with the idea of Fidds Friends, a program where the hard-working forward hosts youngsters from the Boys & Girls Club of Calgary at Hitmen home games.
Through that initiative, tickets and concession vouchers were provided to 60 kids this past winter. The smiles didn’t end at the final buzzer — they were always invited to stick around for a meet-and-greet and autograph session with No. 21.
Fiddler-schultz also teamed with defenceman Luke Prokop to collect donations for the Veterans Food Bank of Calgary just before Remembrance Day — they filled the back of Evan’s pickup truck outside a local grocery store — and volunteered with HEROSHOCKEY and other causes.
“Riley is a special young guy,” said Chynoweth, who has been working in the WHL for threeplus decades. “He’s unassuming. He’s not in it for personal gain. He’s focused, just like he is on the ice, on what he wants to accomplish, and he just wants to give back. You can tell his parents have raised him right.
“We’re really lucky with our group, as a whole, giving back. But every few years, you’ll get that guy who just wants to do more.”
Fiddler-schultz is still that guy. He’ll be aiming to build on the nine goals and 19 points that he notched this past season, but the WHL’S Humanitarian of the Year also wants to expand his community impact when he returns for a third campaign with the Hitmen.
“We definitely want to continue the ones that we did this year, like the food-bank drive and Fidds Friends,” he said.
“And we’re trying to come up with another thing or two we could maybe start next year. We don’t have any concrete ideas, but we’re trying to think of more stuff we could do.”
That family brainstorming session was briefly on hold Tuesday.
Fiddler-schultz, nearly two months after the WHL season was halted to the COVID-19 crisis, was busy as an online bingo caller.
“We’re doing a bingo night with the kids from the Boys & Girls Club, just to try to keep that relationship going in the pandemic and just to give them something to do as well as try to keep that mentorship going,” he said shortly after learning of his Humanitarian of the Year honour. “This is the first one tonight. I think they said there were 10 or 11 kids that signed up, so that’s great.”
Ice chips: Fiddler-schultz is just the third player in Hitmen franchise history to win the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy, joining Chris Nielsen (19992000) and Cody Sylvester (201213) on that exclusive list.
You want to give back as much as you can, especially when you’re put in a position like I am.
Calgary Hitmen centre Riley Fiddler-schultz is the wnner of the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy and is up for the CHL’S Kia Humanitarian of the Year honour.