Brotherly love: Saskatchewan Huskies' top fan cheers on his brother
‘They have a very special relationship’: brother cheers on brother at national championship
As the Saskatchewan Huskies play the UNB Varsity Reds for third place in the national men's university hockey finals, Huskies forward Kohl Bauml knows his number one fan is in the crowd cheering him on.
Bauml's 19-year-old brother Ben goes to all of the Huskies home games in Saskatchewan, and he made the trek with his family to be in Fredericton for nationals.
"They have a very special relationship," said their mother, Jacky McArthur-Bauml.
Ben Bauml has Down syndrome and doesn't speak much, but that doesn't stop him from rooting for his brother, and being an honourary team member.
"I'll come home from a day, two days on the road, and it's like I haven't seen him for two years and he's giving me the biggest hug," said Bauml.
"It's something to play for. My whole life I've thought of that as a motivator I guess you could say. A little saying that me and my parents kind of came up for me just spur of the moment was 'do it for him because he necessarily can't.'"
Part of the team
Ben Bauml's presence is familiar to the whole team.
"If I'm part of the team, he's part of the team. … It was a combo deal. If they were getting me they were getting him too," said Bauml.
When the Huskies win, Ben Bauml joins the team in the locker room to slap high fives and celebrate.
When Kohl Bauml and the Huskies won their conference championship two years ago, he made sure his younger brother got to be on the ice to celebrate with the team.
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"I can see him just sort of running across the crowd in Rutherford down to the one gate, and I knew he was coming on the ice, so I ran over there and grabbed him," said Bauml.
Teammate Jaimen Yakubowski also has a brother with special needs who is an honourary team member.
His brother celebrated with them as well.
"Having those two guys out there, in our Canada West picture, they're front centre, they're both grinning," said Bauml.
"They're as much a part of the team as me or as anyone on this team."
Bauml's mother remembers that moment clearly. She said she couldn't help but tear up, seeing the love the two have for each other.
"That was like, wow, how many kids would think, oh I need to go get my brother," said McArthur-Bauml
"I think having a brother with a disability, you just view life from a different perspective and you have a greater appreciation for life," she said.
Kohl Bauml says having his younger brother around reminds him there's more to life than just hockey.
"It's a serious game, but at the same time it's just hockey," said Bauml.