Kal White third member of family to represent Prince Edward Island at multi-sport national competition
Kal White didn’t have far to look when questions arose about preparing for the Canada Games.
The 14-year-old Charlottetown native, who is a winger with the boys’ hockey team in Red Deer, Alta., could ask his father, K.J., who coached the hockey team in 2003 in northern New Brunswick, or his older sister, Kaelyn, who patrolled the outfield for the softball squad in 2017 in Winnipeg.
“It helped me a lot,” White said.
K.J. and his wife, Penny, are as excited for Kal as they were for Kaelyn.
“As a proud father and family, then you can say, ‘Wow, we had an opportunity to represent P.E.I. at the highest level in multiple places across Canada.”
They know the thousands of hours they have put into their sports to get to this level. And while the competition is key, they see the value of sport running much deeper than wins, losses or ties.
“To see them evolve, see them get better and see them really want to do well in the sports and be a team player, that’s what we, as a family, really embrace. That team atmosphere is a great way to build character,” K.J. said.
He coached the 2003 team that was captained by New York Rangers defenceman Adam McQuaid. The coaching staff included Paul Murnaghan and Trevor MacNeill, while Paul Crabbe was director of operations. They were lifelong friends, and K.J. and MacNeill now work together at Queen Charlotte Intermediate School. K.J. played with both Pauls during the UPEI men’s hockey alumni game a week ago.
When they get together, they often find themselves reminiscing.
“Those memories, they never end,” he said.
“Those are great memories. You talk about the bunks or the buses or the food; you talk about the off-ice or the off-field conversations,” he added. “You go back and have fond memories of those things and say, ‘Remember when’?”
Kaelyn said she shared some memories with her brother but not everything.
“I didn't say too much because I wanted him to experience it for himself,” she said. “I said go out and experience the activities. . . because it really is a once-in-lifetime opportunity – sometimes twice, if you’re lucky.”
Kaelynn was a Week 2 athlete while Kal is going for the first week.
“I’m super excited for Kal, obviously. I can’t wait for him to come back and we can kind of exchange stories.”
Kal and his teammates have been working towards these Games for two years since the identification camps began.
The day the team was selected was a fun moment for the family. They knew Kal would be getting a call one way or the other. But as the evening went along, the anticipation grew until the phone rang.
“He slowly put the phone down, and we’re all like, ‘So’?” Kaelyn said. “And he’s like, ‘I’m on the Canada Games team’, and we’re like, ‘Yes’, (just) freaking out. We were so excited. It was awesome.”
Kal and his teammates were introduced during the Charlottetown Islanders home game on Wednesday night and flew to Red Deer on Thursday. He said this week has been fun as it was the culmination of all their hard work.
“You get that rush and feeling in your body where you're like, ‘wow this is happening’. It’s pretty cool,” he said.
The team begins play today at 3:30 p.m. Atlantic against the Yukon.
“I want to make a big impact,” Kal said. “I’m representing my sister and my father, who already went, but also Central Attack and Team P.E.I., which is amazing.”
Team P.E.I. head coach Kyle Dunn said Kal is one of six underage players to crack the roster that is mainly filled with 2004-born players. Dunn said Kal was like others who were fighting for their spots since Day 1 of camp.
“This year, he really showed . . . he could step up and play at this level,” he said. “I like his work ethic and attitude towards the game. He’s going to fit in great out here if he just plays his game and keeps it simple.”
Kal might not be the last of the White family to wear Island colours at the Games as Morgan is a volleyball player and Will is a hockey and baseball player. The family believes in their children playing multiple sports and being good student-athletes.
K.J. will be heading to Red Deer for the Games while Penny is heading to Toronto with Morgan for a volleyball tournament. Kaelyn and the extended family will take care of Will in Prince Edward Island.
K.J. had a message for all the Island athletes pulling on their province’s colours during the next two weeks.
“When you’re out there, be very proud of where you come from,” he said. “Stand up and be accounted for and do your best and put P.E.I. back on the map once again. It’s not about being small, it’s being great in a small province.”