I have never had the pleasure to meet the hockey player known as Jarome Igina. He does not know my name, my story, where I come from, and could walk past me on the street and think nothing of it. Since the trade, I’ve been asking myself why I feel emotion for a player that I never met and at the end of the day just a hockey player? Growing up in Kelowna I had the pleasure to watch Jarome for the first time when he played with the Kamloops Blazers. I got to see a player who could combine speed, skill, and strength with a burning desire to win. His passion for the game was second to none and it was just my luck that he eventually came to play for my favorite team. I have been a Flames fan since I can remember and will remain one forever and consider myself lucky to have had the pleasure to watch Jarome. I’d love to be able to pinpoint a specific memory in my mind that stands out in Jarome’s hockey career but how do you differentiate them? We all remember “The shift”, but that could be Jarome on any given night. He had such a unique ability to without being asked just say, “come with me guys, I’ve got this” and you would see him do it. I think I’ve lost count on how many games I’ve been to or seen where he just put the team on his back and led them on, victory or no victory, he was there and his passion was evident. That type of passion is what helps makes sports what they are and part of the reason I love sports.
I love sports, not just hockey, and not just love them but I believe in them. For me, sports are not just a game or a competition they are an arena, an arena of life. Sports can take you inside a game, a community or town, or even a person to show you not just a player but a person or a hero. In today’s day and age players come and go, more frequently go, that you never see people anymore. They are numbers in your programs that a few nights a week entertain you only to be out of the picture almost as soon as they enter. Once in a while, if you are lucky, a player will transcend to the point that you have a sense of personal pride knowing that they are part of your life. For me, that person was Jarome Iginla. He made me proud to wear his jersey, proud to have his poster on my wall because you always knew that whether things were bad or good you had a great person to admire. Not only was he a great hockey player and one that could bring you out of your seat, he was as good a person. He was not just a Calgary Flame or a hockey player; he was a person and not just any person but a person worth admiring. That is not something that comes along very often today, but it’s someone that can really re-establish someone’s belief in the power of sport.
I doubt very much that he will ever read this and I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to tell him this or share with him just what exactly he has meant to me or even just get to say thank you, but here I go. Thank you Jarome. Thank you not just for what you did on the ice and your passion you brought to this game and this team for so long but thank you for what you did off the ice. Most importantly, thank you for being a constant reminder of what it truly means to be an athlete and for allowing a kid like me to keep his belief in the purity of sports. You deserve success in your future endeavours and I wish you all the best. No one deserves a cup more than you.