The fourth-year Huskies linebacker is the president of the Huskie Athletics Council and has spearheaded a fundraising effort to raise money for KidSport Saskatoon.
The first annual Huskie Athletic calendar — a 16-month calendar highlighting numerous athletes from the University of Saskatchewan’s varsity teams — will see half of its profits go to KidSport and half go towards funding the HAC and athletic scholarships at the university.
“We wanted something to be the centrepiece of all the volunteering we do,” said Hunter. “If you’re playing university sport, you’re just a giant kid. We couldn’t have picked a charity more worthwhile.”
KidSport, founded in 1993, helps children whose families struggle with the costs of organized sport by removing some of the financial barriers preventing children from staying active.
“Everyone knows how much it costs to play hockey or football and stuff like that. KidSport willl take care of that so the obstacle is not paying for it. It’s just showing up and having fun,” said Hunter.
For him, KidSport is particularly important because it allowed him opportunities that he would not have had if it were not for the charity.
“I played a lot of different sports and I was lucky that my parents could get me involved… but there were a lot of things we couldn’t do,” said Hunter. “Particularly, I remember going to wrestling nationals when I was in high school — which was way out of the scope of something I would have been able to do, not because of ability, but because of the finances. KidSport was able to come through for me there.”
He said that the charity specifically helped by paying for a portion of his travels to Fredericton, N.B., where the national competition took place that year.
Though Hunter still thinks back fondly to his wrestling days, ultimately his place was with the football team.
“For my birthday my dad would take me on the bus to watch Huskies’ playoff games, so I was a Huskies fan since I was old enough to hold a football,” said Hunter. “If you grew up in the city and you grew up playing team sports, I don’t know if there is a better team that you could be on. You’re instantly part of the family when you’re on the football team.”
Although he doesn’t see a lot of playing time on the field, Hunter said he wouldn’t trade his time with the Huskies for anything.
“Football is a different game in that whether you are the most talented guy on the team or the biggest grinder on the team, everybody has to contribute something. Throughout the season, be it injuries or in practice, if you don’t have everyone committed just as equally, it’s going to come through as a weak spot on the team.”
This passion for sports is why Hunter, a student in the College of Arts and Science who has plans to attend law school, has become the president of the HAC and volunteers a lot of his time coaching minor football and co-hosting a weekly web show called Huskies Central alongside defensive back Bryce McCall.
The show not only updates fans on all the Huskies teams, it has also provided an opportunity for the athletes to become familiar with players not just on their own teams.
“The best feedback we’ve gotten, beyond the exposure [the show receives] outside of the Huskies circle, is that it has brought all the teams a lot closer and has formed a tightly knit Huskies community.”
The calendar, said Hunter, will provide fans with an in-depth look at the university’s athletes.
“In the calendar, you are going to get a refreshing, candid look at different athletes from all the different teams,” he said. “We’ve all seen action shots but it’s a little different to see people in a different setting.”
Hunter added that most of the athletes featured are really, really ridiculously good-looking, but humbly excluded himself from that list when asked if he was in the calendar.
“I am and it’s going to be the most disappointing photo for everyone.”[box type=”info”]The Huskie Athletic calendar can be purchased for $19.99 at all Co-op, Mac’s and Huskie store locations throughout the city as well as the U of S bookstore.[/box]
Photo: Drew Larson