It is always interesting to see where people you have grown up with are now. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Brandy Dewar, a former athlete and hockey official here in Sault Ste. Marie. After living in the Soo for seventeen years she has gone on to do some tremendous things both athletically and academically that would probably go without recognition.
The former St. Paul and St. Basil Secondary student left the Soo in September 2006 in order to complete her degree at Brock University in Health and Physical education degree. In June of 2010, Dewar completed her undergraduate education and after completing Teacher’s college in 2011 has the qualification to teach in both the intermediate and senior levels (grades 7-12).
However, the 24-year-old had much bigger aspirations and was accepted into the Masters of Education program at Brock focusing on physical activity and mental health. Through this program she has been presented with a great opportunity to leave her mark on the Health and Physical education department.
“For my major project, I will be creating a physically active handbook that Canadian health and physical educators can use to foster positive mental health in adolescence,” said Dewar.
While Dewar has always been interest in physical activity, whether it be sport or fitness, her she focus on mental health was inspired during her time in Teacher’s College through a program known as Do It for Daron.
“In November 2010, a young Canadian hockey player, Daron Richardson, the daughter of former NHLer Luke, took her own life,” explained Dewar. “Her tragic death sparked a movement for youth health awareness known as ‘Do it for Daron.’
D.I.F.D has become a very powerful movement that is still going strong and working to educate individuals about youth mental health to avoid tragedies like this in the future. The campaign was recognized by the Ottawa Senators, for whom Luke finished his NHL career, when the team played host to two Mental Health Awareness nights at the Scotiabank Place in Deron’s honour.
But the Dewar was connected directly to the Richardson family as well and this impacted her desire in the field of mental awareness. “I officiate with Deron’s older sister Morgan in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League amd her father Luke is the coach of the Lady Senators team in the league. This ignited my interest to address mental health and to foster positive health within a classroom setting.”
While Brandy has excelled academically she has also continued athletically while in St. Catherine’s as well. She began officiating here in Sault Ste. Marie in 2000, while still in high school, however it has become much more than merely a way to make money. “What once started out as just a part-time job has now turned into an opportunity for me with the hope of being a women’s ice hockey referee at the Winter Olympics,” Dewar explained.
She remembers not being very talented when she first began because, although she had played hockey for much of her life the role of the official provides a much different prospective of the game. “There are no two identical views on a hockey game, or at any point within the arena, yet those who have not officiated wouldn’t realize this, said Dewar.” However, she has come a long way since those early years officiating at the John Rhodes or Soo Pee Wee Arena and hopes to someday advance as an official. “I don’t have a goal year, I just want to get there (The Winter Olympics).
Growing up Dewar was an all-around athlete in the Soo participating in a
number of different sports including hockey, basketball, volleyball and badminton.
While she has attended school in St. Catherine’s she has continued playing all but hockey through the school’s intramural leagues. She no longer plays hockey as she spends her time on the ice as an official.
Most recently she has been afforded a number of opportunities through officiating on the way to her goal of being an Olympic official. “Since 2010 I have been on a list of elite officials for the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA). What this Elite list of 65 officials entails is my commitment to travel all over southern Ontario to officiate the PWHL and OUA (Ontario University Association).” This past season Brandy was able to climb another rung on the ladder an official being placed on a 25-member shortlist to officiate the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
Having lived in the Soo for much of her life, when she left for St. Cathrines, she was forced to make a number of adjustments but one of them stood out for her more than any other.
“The food! Almost everywhere you look here in St. Catharines is franchise, franchise, FRANCHISE,” she commented with much enthusiasm. I don’t want frozen and old made food—I want fresh food made no later than that day! Growing up in Sault Ste Marie I never once had pasta sauce out of a jar or frozen pizza because there were limitless possibilities to order pasta sauce or pizza from locally owned restaurant. Now that I am in St. Catharines, I make my one pasta sauce because there are not many places to buy freshly made sauces. Also, there are more Tim Horton’s here than pizzeria’s, which I find very odd ha ha. I miss homemade Sault pizza!”
The 24-year-old has also been known for her vibrant personality and for being an extremely outgoing individual. She can always seen with a smile on her face and willing to help other whenever possible, but even she admits that was not always the case. “I use to let the simpliest things that happened days before bother me and, at the same time, I would worry about the future and the what if’s,” Said Dewar. I have since changed my thinking and am just happy to take my life one day at a time and focus on today.”
But like so many of us, through life experience and maturity Brandy has grown quite a bit and so has her outlook on life. “I like to take my life one day at a time and not let anything that happened yesterday or in the past bother me or cloud my thinking for today.”
Dewar continues her studies at Brock in St. Catherines this spring with a clear goal in mind. “I would like to be enrolled in a PhD (of Education program), with desires to be a university professor, HPE curriculum consultant or policy maker, or to have some advanced job under theee HPE umbrella,” said Dewar optimistically.
Wherever it is that she may end up it is clear that Dewar is a Saulite worth recognizing and a true inspiration to athletes both male and female in this community.
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Anthony Bumbaco for local2 sault ste. marie
April 19th, 2012 at 8:14am