Written by Denis Conroy
Weyburn’s own Braden Birnie recognized this past weekend as the Weyburn Red Wings 2021 RBC & SJHL Community Ambassador for all of his hard work within our community.
“Braden is a hometown hero and takes pride in this title,” stated Rich Pilon, Head Coach and General Manager of the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings. “He radiates positivity and approaches all that is thrown his way with an enthusiastic attitude that is infectious. His community involvement has been paused while we all try to stay safe throughout the pandemic but Braden cannot wait to get back at it. Even when he isn’t making community appearances on behalf of our team – he is representing our team. Every day in every one of his interactions in our City.”
This is far from being the first time that Birnie has been recognized for helping out his team and community.
“It’s really humbling,” Birnie expressed. “For me growing up watching the Wings and having them come to our schools was incredible. So I wanted to do the same thing when I got to this level and I think now that I’m recognized for that it’s super awesome for me.”
Coach Pilon added that the Red Wings received many requests for Birnie to attend community events. To their surprise, he not only attended the ones he was asked to but also made appearances on his own at other events he was requested to attend.
“Me and another guy from our team went to the parade on behalf of the Red Wings,” told Birnie. “We reached out to the season ticket holders too. We were selling our 50/50 tickets and telling them how much their support means to us. Going to the outdoor rink with a bunch of kids here. It’s always good for them to have a Red Wing out there. They always know who you are and love playing with you. So just little things like that.”
Birnie added that he has been checking in on all of his teammates and has been doing what he can to keep everyone’s spirits up during this past difficult year for sports.
“What a lot of people don’t understand are these relationships you are able to form throughout the year and how important that is to the team’s success,” Birnie explained. “Having everyone on the same page and making sure everyone’s comfortable with each other is such a huge part of hockey.”
Birnie recalled what it was like to go to Red Wings games when he was younger and said that his love for the sport began by watching the older athletes play.
“Every Friday and Saturday night if I wasn’t playing hockey I’d be at the rink watching the Red Wings game,” said Birnie. “My dad used to call the games on the radio. And back in 2005 when they won, I don’t remember all of it, but I remember I was sitting right by the penalty box watching when they won and my dad made the call. So I was at the games when I was little and I was always rooting for them and hoping they’d succeed. And they were always good when I was younger and back in the day. So I just like to remember stuff like that.”
Birnie said that he is still doing what he can to help out around the community and hopes to be able to continue to do so in the future as well.
“Last year I was able to help more than this year obviously with the pandemic,” Birnie told. “We did an after-school program at Souris School where we went and played floor hockey with them and we’d do different things every Monday. You know that they idolize you a lot and they appreciate it when you come. Just seeing how happy they are when you play floor hockey with them is so special. There are lots of other things we’ve done in the community. Serving wings at Boston Pizza last year every Thursday was great. It’s good to interact with everyone and get their thoughts on the team. All of the school visits we do are awesome. It wasn’t just Souris. We go all over the place and do stuff like that. And it’s just so awesome how appreciative they are that the Red Wings are there.”
Coach Pilon said that Birnie is always the first to offer a helping hand and his teammates have always looked forward to the fresh cookies and treats he would give to anyone who showed up to various team meetings.
“I hope we can get the season going here right away,” expressed Birnie. “If we have to do a bubble that’s awesome. I just want to get playing. I want to try to get a scholarship to play hockey somewhere or maybe see if I can go play overseas. But schooling is a big priority for me now and I’m taking a few classes through the University of Regina right now. So if I can move forward and play hockey at the same time that would probably be a dream for me.”
He shared the following advice for younger athletes that are interested in the sport of hockey.
“Hockey is something that’s going to give you friends for a lifetime and experiences and moments that you won’t be able to create anywhere else,” Birnie expressed. “It’s something that you can live and work for to achieve your dreams. It’s something that makes you happy and gives you something to work for. What the sport gives to you I can’t really put into words.”