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'A Lot of Pride' Playing for Hometown

By Mitchell Machtinger, 01/18/19, 9:30AM EST


Representing your town every time you put on the jersey

Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa Photography

One of the great examples of the power of sports is the passion people have in representing their hometown every time they put on a jersey. Playing in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association gives players this experience. For those lucky enough to play in the in the Ontario Hockey League, only a handful have had the stars align and be able to suit up for their hometown team.  

Such is the case for Matt McNamara, a Peterborough native who grew up in the city and now suits up for the OHL’s Petes after playing with the Minor Petes as a kid. He was no stranger to the Peterborough Memorial Centre through the years, attending multiple games and dreaming of the day he could one day sitting beside his favourite players on the bench.

His dreams became a reality after the Petes drafted him in the third round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection and he has been a member of the team ever since. He still lives at home with his parents and attended the same high school, not common for players who usually live with a billet family and go to a different school in their new city.

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His setup has given him a crucial support system which he acknowledges is special.

“If I have a bad day I can go home and see my parents… in some cases maybe some guys wouldn’t reach out to their billet family as much as they would their parents,” said McNamara. “I have that unique situation where I can talk to my parents or my grandparents because all my family lives in Peterborough. I see them at games, I see them all over the place and they’re always there to support me. It’s unique and pretty cool to have that support level.”

Tyson Foerster, a rookie with the Barrie Colts, also knows what it’s like to play for his hometown team. The forward grew up in nearby Alliston and has many friends and family who attend every game. While he is living in a billet house, Foerster is able to see his family more than many of his peers.

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“It wasn’t as hard as most people think. Other people have to move a couple hours and they never get to really see their families,” said Foerster. “My family comes to usually every game and I get to see them after. They come to my billet house and I eat lunch with them. It’s just a lot easier, then I get more confidence.”

For McNamara, Peterborough is all that he has known in his life. He’s now taken on a new role in the hockey community and is able to give back to the game in a different way. He’s now truly realizing how important the game is to those he grew up with and says he takes a lot of pride in representing his hometown.

“You go out for dinner and you see fans wanting to talk to you and you wouldn’t get that as a minor hockey player. When you’re playing in the OHL you see how big this hockey community is and how much people really love the Peterborough Petes and you get that feeling that people really do love us. It’s pretty cool that you step out on the ice and you have thousands of fans that are loving it.”

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Mitchell Machtinger is the Communications Coordinator at the OMHA. He's worked with various sport organizations and is an avid fan of all sports.

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