Roughriders training camp delights Saskatoon care home fans

Rider fans living at the Sherbrooke Community Centre care home got an up-close look at some of their favourite players during the team's training camp this week.

Visit called "a highlight of their summer" for Sherbrooke Community Centre residents

Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive end John Chick, seen on the far right, signs autographs for residents of the Sherbrooke Community Centre care home at training camp in Saskatoon on June 4, 2014. (CBC Saskatchewan/Eric Anderson)

With the Saskatchewan Roughriders' training camp taking place just up the street from her care home, Susan Hayward couldn't turn down the chance to catch some football action.

Hayward is the recreation co-ordinator at the Sherbrooke Community Centre, a long-term care facility that's home to about 270 people — including more than a few Rider fans.

It's a highlight of their summer.- Susan Hayward, recreation co-ordinator at the Sherbrooke Community Centre

"These guys have been long-term lovers of the Roughriders, and we thought, perfect opportunity," said Hayward, as she and a group of about 10 residents watched the team practice at Griffiths Stadium on the University of Saskatchewan campus.

"We're two blocks away, so we'd come over and check it out and see what's going on."

Riders quarterback Darian Durant was on the field taking a few snaps Thursday afternoon, much to the delight of care home resident Donavon McAlpine. 

Sherbrooke Community Centre recreation co-ordinator Susan Hayward sits on the stands between residents Don Gabert, left, and Wilfred Blondeau, right, during Riders training camp. (CBC Saskatchewan/Eric Anderson)

"It makes me feel so good [to see him in person], y'know?" said McAlpine, who later got his jersey autographed by Durant, his favourite player.

"Makes everything good. Makes you smile."

Hayward said the home's biggest Riders fans aren't just limited to seeing the team during the preseason. They've been known to take yearly trips down to Regina to see the team once the games start to count.

For people dealing with disability and disease, getting a chance to witness a game or two is so important, Hayward said.

"It's a highlight of their summer," she said. "It allows them to participate in activities of daily living which, you know, people in the community take for granted."