HIT­MEN CEN­TRE HON­OURED FOR HU­MAN­I­TAR­I­AN­ISM

WHL rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of Fid­dler-schultz’s work in the com­mu­nity

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - WES GILBERTSON wgilbert­son@post­media.com Twitter.com/wes­gilbert­son

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.

Fit­ting.

“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.

LEAH HENNEL/FILES

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.

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