The Rock Roadies are back! As of tonight’s Toronto Rock home opener against the Philadelphia Wings, the Toronto Rock Roadies will be in the house. The fan group is reemerging after a couple of years and they’ll be easy to spot; just look for the blue-and-red Blast Zone construction helmets in Section 117 of the Air Canada Centre. That’s where Jarrett Harris, leader of the Roadies, will be sitting to cheer on his favourite team.
The Roadies started 11 years ago as one of three teams’ fan groups that kicked off the Fann Cup. It’s become a 10-team, one-day stick-check lacrosse tournament that raises money for local charities. The charity of choice for the Toronto group is Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation. The foundation was a favourite cause and supporter of legendary Rock coach Les Bartley, who was also a mentor for Harris when he joined the Roadies and helped get Les’ Fund rolling.
“On a personal level, he took me under his wing,” Harris says. “He had a presence unlike any other man I’ve ever met. That’s a huge statement but I was allowed to stand on the shoulders of a giant.” Bartley told Harris that Wellspring had been of immense help to his family and he would like, if they didn’t mind, if they could donate some of the money they raise to the foundation. Harris says he didn’t hesitate for a second. After all, Bartley’s battle with cancer was the impetus for starting the group.
Harris says you can still see people at Rock games wearing Lisa’s Beads bracelets, which the Roadies used to sell at games to raise money for a variety of charities, including Wellspring. Now, the Roadies will be back raising funds for great causes at games at the ACC.
“The team reached out to us,” Harris says. “I got a call from Garrett Billings and thought, what is this sniper for the Toronto Rock calling me for?” It turns out that Billings, who is working in business development for the team, wanted to reinvigorate the fan group and make them a presence at the stadium again. It was Billings’ idea to invite the loyal Roadies to use the turf at the Toronto Rock Athletic Facility for a shootaround game a couple of weeks ago.
Harris invited me to join them and I can back his statement that the Roadies are “a good-natured, good-spirited bunch of people.” The game was fun, as are most activities with which they get involved. They’re also generous with their time and fundraising and devoted to the team they love.
But you’ll see that yourself if you’re at the ACC tonight. Remember, just look for the hardhats. If you’re interested in learning more about the Roadies, look up their group on Facebook. They’d be happy to hear from you.
Harris says he “got involved because I got tired of people saying, Les has cancer, somebody should do something.” Nearly a dozen years later, Jarrett Harris and the Toronto Rock Roadies are still doing something, and it’s something good.Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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