Over the past 13 months, Drew Doughty‘s life has been a roller coaster ride of peaks and valleys. Everything from his best friend and roommate being traded to starting the season without a contract and culminating with his first Stanley Cup. While most of those events surrounded ‘Doughty the hockey player,’ he’s now back home in London, Ontario – where he’s simply known as Drew.
“My parents always preached to me growing up, telling me that if one day I ever did make it and I had the money to do special things, that’s exactly what they wanted me to do,” said Doughty, when asked about the importance of giving back to the community. “So, I made sure that once I reached the NHL I did just that.”
Yet, he didn’t organize this Saturday’s charity softball tournament just to honor the wishes of his mom or for some free publicity. Simply put, Doughty loves where he’s from – as evidenced by the Toronto Blue Jays hat he’s constantly wearing. More specifically, he holds one local city dear to his heart, proudly claiming, “London is the best place in Ontario!”
The almost always smiling 22-year old even finds a way to beam a little brighter when talking about his hometown. “The community shows so much support for us,” Doughty boasts. “They come watch us, they’re great fans and little kids see us as role models. So, it’s important to show them how much we appreciate them.”
But, why softball, you might wonder? That’s easy to answer.
“I wanted to do something different,” Doughty explained. “For the most part, every hockey player who holds charity events, it’s usually a golf tournament. So, throughout the summer I play in so many golf events for other guys that I just felt like doing something different. Growing up, a lot of the boys played baseball. Some guys even still play softball in the summer now. So, I just thought it would be a good idea to do a softball tournament. I know last year we all had a ton of fun and this year I’m expecting even more and more.”
Assuming bigger is better, the second annual ‘Drew Doughty Grand Slam for Cancer‘ tournament is shaping up nicely. They’ll be playing across two fields at Labatt Park (where the local minor league baseball team is housed) and organizers are expecting about double the attendance from a year ago.
The always competitive Doughty did leave last year’s event with one small complaint though. He and his crew of mashers were blown out in the finals by the squad from Forest City Mechanical.
That puts another goal right along side his fundraising efforts, Doughty wants to show all his friends and neighbors that he’s capable of putting a winning team together too. Things won’t be any easier though, as this time around they’ll be one of 12 co-ed teams entered – twice as many as last year.
“It’s going to be a lot bigger than the first one,” said a confident Doughty. “We had almost a whole year to organize it. So, it’s going to be really well run and hopefully raise a lot of money.”
Doughty’s team will feature Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks, Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers and a handful of other pro athletes. They’ll be taking on teams made up of local firemen, policemen and beer league bombers. The all-local flavor will be rounded out by the return of the guys from Forest City Mechanical, who are hoping to successfully defend their crown.
And if the trophy they’re playing for has a familiar look, well, it’s no accident.
“I kind of helped design it,” Doughty shared. “The people that helped me organize the tournament gave me some concepts and ideas to get started. But, I really liked the idea of the Stanley Cup (bowl) at the top, and as you work your way down there’s a baseball in there too.”
Apparently not content with the trophy be claimed last month, Doughty then snuck in – “I’m hoping my team raises the trophy this year.”
Regardless of what happens on the field, the big winner of the day will be Wellspring London, a local charity that doesn’t receive any government support. They rely heavily on fundraising efforts like this to keep things going. It’s also a charity supported by Perry, so a few of the local guys are already familiar with the positive efforts Wellspring does for the greater London area. The free assistance they provide for cancer patients and their families is something that nearly everybody can relate to.
Which is why Doughty and the event organizers think this year’s tournament is just a small step towards bigger things ahead.
“It’s time to have some fun, get out there and swing the bat while giving back to the community and hopefully raising as much money as we can,” said Doughty. “If all goes right, we’ll keep this thing growing for many years to come.”