Teamwork on the ice and in the sky

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Katie Brickman
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Warriors and Snowbirds share similarities; a lasting friendship

Lt.-Col Christopher England, the commanding officer of the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron feels like the Snowbirds and the Moose Jaw Warriors share a lot in common.

Moose Jaw Warriors forwards Jack Rodewald (right) and Torrin White (far right) shake hands with pilots of the 431 Squadron, the Snowbirds, after the two organizations spent Tuesday afternoon together learning from each other. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman

“Our two teams share quite a lot of principles together. We are a group of skilled aviators and maintainers. We work as a team and we are professional, much like the Warriors,” stated England. “They are younger and do a different job out there, but they are very skilled and work as a team and they conduct themselves professionally. I think there are quite a few commonalities between the two.”

Members of the Warriors participated in the third straight year of spending a day with the Snowbirds. Veterans Torrin White, Jack Rodewald and Jesse Forsberg, along with Warriors general manager, Alan Millar went up in the famous planes for a flight.

“The last few years, the relationship has always been about just how similar we are in terms of the trust, the teamwork and those words are so important,” said Millar. “Obviously, for these guys, they are in the air and it is life and death at times, but it correlates to how important teammates are (and) the trust of each other — for us, it is on the ice, for them it is in the air.”

Captain Brett Parker, Snowbird 2 pilot was one of the people that brought this idea to fruition three years ago and has enjoyed the budding relationship between the two teams.

“Basically, we started this relationship between the two teams just as an opportunity for us to get together and see how we do things,” stated Parker. “Hopefully and ideally, improve on how we do things and learn from each other.”

The 431 Squadron is made up of over 100 people and all must work together in order for perfect or near perfect flights to take place every day.

“Our platform is to demonstrate the skill, professionalism and teamwork of the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Parker.

England’s predecessor, Maryse Carmichael was also part of starting this initiative as a way for the squadron and the Warriors to foster a community bond.

Prior to the four Warriors donning their uniforms and masks, they were briefed on everything the pilots go through before a flight. Much like what the team would go through in the locker room prior to a game.

“We talked about the preparation involved. There is mental preparation, physical preparation, going through a game plan (and) talking about what is going to occur in each flight that you are going up on,” explained England. “Mission preparation is much like game day preparation  — there is the mental preparation, we call it chair-flying. You will see goalies before hockey games that are sitting there thinking through all their maneuvers.”

The biggest piece of advice that many of the Snowbird pilots wanted to get across to the young Warriors was the need to be mentally prepared for every game and situation.

“It is such a special relationship that our community has with our team and the Snowbirds. I think it is just an invaluable experience for our players,” said Millar. 

The Warriors will now head back to the ice and try to take what they learned from the Snowbirds as they attempt to snap a season-long seven game losing streak.

“I think you take everything,” said Forsberg. “There is a lot of respect for each and every one of them. Just the way they go about everything with professionalism and the teamwork that they show all the time.”

Follow me on Twitter @katiebrickman.

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