Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com
When he saw the flooding and the ensuing damages that resulted to many of the houses in his hometown, Spencer Johnstone knew immediately he had to help out.
The Lloydminster Bobcat defenceman was born and raised in Calgary, and said that although his home wasn’t affected by last month’s floods, he made some rounds, helping out family and friends.“Knowing that my house was OK, I felt obligated to go down and help as much as I can and do what I could do,” said Johnstone on Monday night from Calgary.
Johnstone contributed 11 points in 56 games as a rookie for the Bobcats last season, and developed a habit for stepping up and making loud, open-ice body checks.
He said he was in Mission, a district in Calgary, on the first day people were going door-to-door and helping out.
“People are just walking around with 24-packs of water, offering water, juice,” he said of the altruistic nature of the volunteers. “People with wheelbarrows of sandwiches, just handing them out to volunteers that need stuff, it was pretty intense.”
Johnstone spoke of people lending Bobcat compact tractors, among other things, to help with the clean-up effort, as well as volunteer crews showing up at houses offering their help. “You go and help and you just see people helping at houses, like random people just showed up, it was pretty neat to see,” he explained.
It was in High River, a week after the flooding began, that he saw just how bad it was for some. Johnstone said he went to go help a co-worker of his mother’s, and came upon a house that had water six inches high as soon as you step in the front door.
“The whole basement was flooded,” he said. Seeing people lose valuables and old photos, in particular, was hard to take, said Johnstone. “It was pretty tough seeing that, people go through that kind of thing.”
Johnstone’s selfless acts and his wanting to help out is something that, while perhaps already innate, is fostered by the Lloydminster Bobcats. “They’re a pretty big community-based team,” said Johnstone, referencing what seems like an endless list of charitable causes the team had him, and other players, take part in this past season.
The team did a lot to help raise money for the MS Society and shovelled driveways for those living with MS. They also helped build the Forester Place Project through Habitat for Humanity, and supported the anti-bullying cause in the month of February.
And, for Johnstone at least, that altruistic nature extends away from the rink. “You do take pride in it,” he said. “It’s kind of who I am. You just feel like you need to be there for other people in that time of need.”
Being away from the rink is something Johnstone is looking forward to ending, however, as he’ll make the trek back to the Border City in mid-August for training camp. Though he had earned a spot as a regular last year, the 19-year-old is looking forward to the challenge of once again earning a spot on what looks to be a crowded blueline. “I’m pretty excited to be fighting for a spot in the lineup every day,” he said. “My expectation is just to come into camp strong, show (new head coach) Garry (VanHereweghe) that I want to be there and get this team on a positive step.”