The Northumberland Stars held a practice on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at the Keeler Centre in Colborne, but clearly their minds were elsewhere.
It’s the first time the team had gathered since losing a member of their hockey family.
Sixteen-year-old Nolan Showers will killed as he was in-line skating near his home in Brock Township around 10:30 p.m. on Monday, October 5, 2020.
Just a few days earlier, Showers signed with the Northumberland Stars who are in the Greater Metro Jr. A Hockey League.
He’d been trying out with the team for a few weeks and in the photo of him signing standing alongside him was owner Glen Campbell and General Manager John Buchanan.
Anyone who looks at the photo can see the pride, joy and excitement of the teenager.
You didn’t have to know Showers, all you had to do is look at the photo and you could tell what kind of kid he was. A typical Canadian kid who loved the game of hockey and did anything he could to play and better himself.
Showers had turned 16 in June and Buchanan said the smiling boy who dreamed of the big league it was all about family, hockey and schooling.
Before practice on Tuesday the team met. Management wanted each of the players to know if they needed someone to talk with about their emotions there was professional help available.
Some members of the team had been texting with Showers just minutes before he was killed.
When he became a member of the Stars, he became family.
There are no words to convey what the Showers family is going through. His sisters and his parents were in the thoughts of everyone on the Stars team.
And for everyone who came in contact with him on the Stars team, that smile, that determination, that drive will live forever.
In the short time with the team, Showers left his mark.
He was that special said Buchanan.
Buchanan said the defenceman had a bright future ahead of him in hockey. With his determination, he would surely have been picked up by other leagues.
Assistant coach Randy Haug got to know Showers during tryouts and said he was a player who looked you in the eyes and listened to everything you said.
“He was all in,” said Haug.
“You could tell he had passion. He listened when you gave him instructions, when you gave him feedback he always looked you in the eye.”
“He was a good kid, raised by a good family and he’ll be missed.”
Try as he might to hold back the tears, General Manager John Buchanan couldn’t.
He’s known Showers’ dad for approximately 25 years.
Buchanan is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve.
Speaking with him several times on Tuesday, he was clearly distraught, but answered questions about Showers and what type of person he was and the good family he came from growing up with his dad at the helm and teaching him about the game of hockey.
The love the players had, the coaching staff had and the love that Buchanan had enveloped the Keeler Centre on Tuesday evening.
Before practice, the team donned their jerseys and brought out Showers number 23 jersey for a team photo.
Then it was back to practice. To push themselves. To better themselves in the game they love. Just like Nolan.
While the team was on the ice, Buchanan was outside the dressing room. He was setting up two hockey sticks with Showers jersey outside the dressing room door for when the players came off the ice.
Buchanan said, “he earned everything that happened to him here (with the team).”
“It wasn’t given to him. It wasn’t handed to him.”
At this point with COVID-19, there is no set date when the league will begin. But when it does, rest assured the hearts and minds of the Northumberland Stars will be on one member of their family that isn’t with them – Nolan Showers.