With the help of their London Devilettes hockey squad, the Forcey family is seeing first-hand the support a team can provide, and more than just on the back check.
In April 2012, the Forcey mom, Pam, lost her battle to breast cancer. Over the years the London family has steeped themselves in the Devilettes club with daughters Emma, 14, and Jess, 12, playing for the Bantam AA and PeeWee AA teams, respectively. The father, Andy, sits on the Devilette’s board of directors and coached several of the club’s squads. All signs point to three-year-old Addison becoming a future Devilette.
Pam always came to the rink to cheer her girls on when they played hockey even throughout her fight with breast cancer.
Now that the woman described as “always having a smile on her face” is gone, the Devilettes are showing their support for the hockey family.
In recognition of Pam and breast cancer awareness, the Bantam AA and PeeWee AA teams traded in their usual blue and red for an alternate pink jersey to wear throughout the year.
“Last season when Pam was still with us we wore breast cancer tape on our socks and everyone knew that she was going through a really difficult time and what was going on with her whole family,” said Rob Burnett, an assistant coach with PeeWee AA team and the man who spearheaded the new sport sweaters. “It’s something I wanted to do for (the Forcey family) because I saw what they went through and how difficult it was and how the whole family carried themselves.”
The concept for the jerseys came last year when Pam still came out to the games, but the idea was too late into the season to implement.
Keeping the sweaters a secret from the Forcey’s, the club unveiled the alternate jerseys to Andy at the team’s last practice before heading into their first game of 2012-13.
“Lots of emotion, let's put it that way,” Andy said. “You’re just a little bit overwhelmed with regards to the goodness of people and what impact Pam has made on them and how they want to give back.”
The gesture on the part of the Devilettes shows more of commitment towards friends helping each other in need than a team helping players out.
Growing up, children are taught from parents and teachers that through bad times, can come some good. That sentiment isn’t lost on adults.
“The only good that I’m getting at this point in time is the empathy that people have and how many people you have in your corner that you might not have realized,” Andy said. “I mean you do realize, but you don’t really realize until you really need them.”
Probably the most meaningful time the pink jerseys were donned was when the PeeWee AA team travelled to Etobicoke for the 3rd Annual Pink the Rink tournament where they captured gold.
The sweaters will be retired after this season with each girl on the Devilettes teams getting to keep it.
Although the jersey is meant to be an alternate for the squads, the girls have recently hung it up for a few games. It’s not that they don’t still appreciate the cause, but because they wanted to wear the sweaters at every game and they're starting to get a little worn.
Having the jersey for the provincial final in February, when the Devilletes will have to fight really hard, might be when they need the sweater most.
After all, seeing her kids give everything they had on the ice seems to be what made Pam happiest.
“(Pam) always had a smile on her face when she was at the rink watching her kids play,” Burnett said. “I just see her right now smiling on what’s going on and how well her kids are getting by.”