Former Regina Pats netminder and fan favourite, Matt Hewitt was known for his past-time of juggling. The New Westminster, B.C. native even received training in juggling and used it as a part of his pre-game routine. Now the goaltender who made over 4,000 saves in his career with the Pats is juggling something else. The game Matt loves and his studies at the University of British Columbia.
“It’s been a great experience. I think just making the adjustment from just playing hockey to having education. Having to open up a book and read for a while is the biggest challenge. I think the first semester is always the biggest struggle because you’re just trying to find your place within the school and the new hockey team. You’re trying to keep up with your marks and it’s a lot to handle.”
Between a full schedule of hockey and a slate of classes, Hewitt says it doesn’t leave a ton of time for anything else.
“The time management has been tough because every day we’re practicing and we’re working out two times a week. On top of that we probably have two or three classes a day. You don’t have much free time to work throughout the day.”
Recently, Hewitt was able to return to his old stomping grounds with the Thunderbirds to take on the University of Regina Cougars. The pair of games gave Hewitt a chance to visit with his billets, friends and former teammates with the Pats.
“We actually had quite a bit of spare time throughout our schedule. We had our team meals, but our team was pretty lenient with me because I think they understood, you know, Regina has lots of family and old players. They understood I had people to say so they were pretty easy going with letting me go see them.”
Unfortunately, the Men’s Hockey Program at UBC is battling through adversity. It’s among thirteen varsity sports that could see funding reduced this year. University officials say they are conducting the review because the $6.2 million dollar operating budget for the 29 varsity teams supported isn’t sustainable. The cut teams will retain access to UBC facilities away from prime times of usage, but only travel to championship games will be funded and flights to cities like Regina for league games don’t come cheap. Hewitt stated his case for the program in an email after our initial interview.
“UBC has had a hockey team since 1915,” wrote Hewitt. “Hockey has been a way of life for myself and countless Canadians. It is hard to believe that the UBC men’s hockey program would be terminated. For many athletes, the CIS provides an avenue to continue playing the game along with studies. Very few of us make the NHL. However, many of us aspire to continue playing the game we love, to reach the highest level we can play. Also, our Universities aspire (for) us to grow as individuals and become leaders with our communities. If this team is terminated, who is next? What happens if we lose the CIS? For our youth and future, we need to support the CIS hockey teams.”
To wrap up our chat, Matt had this message to pass along to the billets, volunteers, staff and fans who made Hewitt’s time in Regina a great experience.
“Thanks for all the time and support you’ve given me and supporting my career, I appreciate that. I always want to give back to my fans, so I’d like to say thanks and I miss Regina.”