Art Unsworth visited 11 grocery stores before the University of Saskatchewan Huskies’ basketball games on Jan. 28.
He was searching for white cheddar popcorn flavouring.
The Popcorn Guy, as Unsworth is known to his followers, vowed never to serve the less tasty, orange-cheddar version of his favourite snack again at games — something he had had to do the previous night.
“I bring popcorn and I hand it out to whoever throughout the game,” said Unsworth, who can easily be spotted in the stands with his cowboy hat, moustache and green bandana.
“I love white cheddar.”
The specific flavouring combined with a few perfected topping techniques — grape seed oil — are part of Unsworth’s fight to bring popcorn back into the University of Saskatchewan’s Physical Activity Complex.
“The PAC is the only gym that I’ve been in that does not sell popcorn for their sports fans,” he said, noting that the concession sold popcorn many years ago until a janitor complained about the mess.
“This is my personal protest…. Basketball is meant to be watched with popcorn.”
Of course, handing out popcorn isn’t the only reason why the Dogs alumnus — he played for the university in 1972-73 — and reigning Huskies fan of the year has attended nearly every Huskies basketball game for the last seven years. His youngest son, Chris, is a fifth-year forward with the Dogs and his eldest, Clint, graduated from the team two years ago.
While Chris’s first two years of Canadian Interuniversity Sport were used playing basketball and football at the University of Calgary, the two boys were given the opportunity to play together on the Huskies in Clint’s last season — 2009-10.
That year, the Huskies won the CIS championship.
It was one of the proudest and most emotional moments the boys’ father said he has ever experienced. He still has trouble watching footage from the final game.
“I can’t watch it. I cry,” he said.
Unsworth has done his best to raise the boys as a single parent after a farm accident tragically killed Chris and Clint’s mother, Heather, on Dec. 7, 1995.
He knew that Chris and Clint were going to have to pick up more jobs on the family’s ranch near Maple Creek, Sask. following the accident, but he still tried not to limit their lives to chores.
“I vowed that the boys were going to have as normal an upbringing as possible and we simply worked at making that happen.”
The father balanced his time between driving to basketball games and running the ranch. He worked hard and it clearly influenced his kids.
“I always felt very privileged. He always went the extra mile,” said Chris of his father. “We got to do everything that we wanted to and lots of opportunities were given to us. I’m very grateful for it and I’m going to try and make the best of it.”
Unsworth, of course, gives all the credit to his boys.
“They were always an easy pair to get along with and to raise,” he said. “These guys have earned what they have through their hard work, both in school and in the athletic field.”
Photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf