Members of the Heat Generation booster club help raise awareness of the team and welcome players to the community.

Members of the Heat Generation booster club help raise awareness of the team and welcome players to the community.

Boosting the Heat: Heat Generation club goes the extra mile to support AHL team

Most sports fans are content to limit their involvement to watching games, but some are a little more hardcore.

Most sports fans are content to limit their involvement to watching games, wearing their jersey and maybe collecting the odd player autograph when the opportunity presents itself.

Then there are those who are a little more hardcore – fans who want to go the extra mile and support their favourite team more directly.

The Abbotsford Heat have such a group of diehards, and they’ve come together to launch a booster club called Heat Generation.

The purpose of the 80-member organization is to create interest in the team while offering practical support to the players on a variety of fronts.

Heat Generation gives out Welcome Wagon-style packages to players each fall when they arrive in Abbotsford to familiarize them with the community, and hosted a season-ending dinner for the team last spring. They’re also in the process of launching an adopt-a-player program which would pair athletes with local families. Having access to an occasional home-cooked meal is no small thing, particularly for rookies straight out of junior hockey who are living on their own for the first time.

“We’re not sure how many players are going to put their name in the hat (for the adopt-a-player program), but it’s just to give them somewhere to call home,” explained Rolf Spaeti, Heat Generation co-chair.

“We just want to support the Abbotsford Heat – make them feel a part of the community.”

The booster club was the brainchild of Spaeti, a Heat season ticket holder who became aware of similar organizations in other AHL cities and pitched the idea to team president Ryan Walter in the summer of 2012. Walter encouraged him to put together a proposal, and Walter’s wife Jennifer became the group’s secretary during its inaugural season of 2012-13.

Head coach Troy Ward has also taken a direct interest in Heat Generation – he attends all of the club’s meetings in order to provide guidance from the hockey team’s side of things.

“Obviously our following in the community isn’t huge,” Ward noted. “But the people that do embrace it, I think they should have a direct line to the coach. I appreciate their support on behalf of the team.”

Booster clubs are, in fact, an initiative close to Ward’s heart. In 1986, as a 24-year-old rookie head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (an NCAA Div. 3 program), he gathered a group of local businessmen in his living room to pitch the team’s first booster club.

“I brought all these business guys to what I’d call a shack, back then,” he recalled with a chuckle. “It was called the Center Ice Club, and it’s still going today. So I’ve had a passion for what they (booster clubs) do and how they function.”

In addition to their player-oriented activities, Heat Generation members run a booth on the concourse at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre during games, hosting contests where fans can make predictions on which player will score the team’s first goal that night.

The club also gives out a trophy at season’s end to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, perseverance, and leadership on the ice and who is a positive role model in the community. Goalie Danny Taylor won the inaugural award for 2012-13.

“The ulterior motive for me (being involved in the booster club) was just to promote the game and be a really good fan,” explained Heat Generation co-chair Gary McCaskill, an Abbotsford resident who spent decades scouting and coaching hockey at the junior level.

“I was excited when I found out the Heat were coming to Abbotsford. It gave me a quality of hockey to watch that I really appreciate, and I really enjoy watching all these young kids develop and move on to their future careers. I wanted to be able to promote it to people in Abbotsford.

“If you’re a hockey fan, come on out. I don’t care if you wear a Detroit jersey or a Canucks jersey or a Boston jersey, it doesn’t matter. Come on out.”

For more information on the booster club, visit heatgeneration.ca.

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read