When Amanda Deveaux travels to Finland in December to compete in her second World Club Championship with the Cambridge Turbos, her focus will be on competing hard for her team, but in her heart she will be playing for someone else. Her late father, Alex Deveaux, will be her inspiration.
“My dad would be so proud to know I’m playing in an international tournament. He was my biggest supporter and fan in over 20 years that I’ve played this game,” says Amanda. Her dad got her started in ringette at age 6 in her hometown of Pickering, Ontario.
Alex died from cancer on April 1, 2010, just days before the Nationals began in Saskatoon. He had retired a few years earlier and had returned to his birthplace in Cape Breton to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. “I was able to spend some time with him in his last days, and I know he would have wanted me to be at Nationals, as my dream to compete at this level was also his dream for me.”
Amanda travelled back to Toronto from Cape Breton to pack for the tournament and then headed to Saskatoon. It was a difficult time and she says she was so grateful for her team’s support. The Turbos dedicated their tournament to “DAD,” wearing patches on their sleeves to honour Alex. “Playing at Nationals was very therapeutic for me. Being around the team and parents was such a big help,” she says.
“My dad was a terrific athlete who had played hockey his whole life, with a highlight of playing in an Old Timers tournament in Europe. I’ve always looked up to my dad and have always wanted to follow in his footsteps,” says Amanda.
The NRL had just started with a trial year in 2005 when Amanda was a Kinesiology student at the University of Western Ontario in London. She was selected to play for the Waterloo Wildfire that year. “I lived in a dorm room and had no place to store my ringette bag. My father took charge of my equipment that whole season, bringing it from Pickering to every game throughout the province – clean and fresh. It was pretty amazing.”
After graduation from Western, Amanda took a year off to live in Australia. Coming back to Canada, she worked hard to get back into playing shape. Tragedy struck while playing in a ball hockey game that summer. Amanda suffered a nasty broken leg and ended up with a plate and nine screws inserted to put it back together. “My dad stayed with me for over a month to help me through the surgery and recovery. I don’t know what I’d have done without him.”
Amanda continued to work hard to get back into the NRL and it paid off when she got a tryout with the Turbos the following season and made the team. “My dad was living in Cape Breton then, but he was so happy to hear of our successes.” Alex would have finally had a chance to see Amanda play in a National championship in nearby PEI in 2009, but he was diagnosed with cancer shortly before. His treatment schedule prevented him from seeing Amanda and the Turbos win Gold at that tournament.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have a supporter like my dad. He gave me the determination and confidence to play a game I absolutely love. So, in Finland this year, this one’s for you Dad.”