Profile – Strathroy Rockets David Honsberger

Name:  David Honsberger

Children:  Jeremiah, Jannet

Work:  Entertainment Tonight

 

1. What team do you volunteer for?

Strathroy Rockets

 

2. What is your position with the team?

Videographer, stats, 105.7 myFM colour commentator, past president

 

3. Why do you volunteer for them?

As a life-long lover of the game of hockey, I began volunteering in the 1970s as the team statistician of the St. Catharines Black Hawks and, once the club moved to Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls Flyers.  It was only a natural progression that once I moved to Strathroy that I would volunteer with the local hockey team.

 

4. How did you get started?

As the owner of a local video store, I began as a sponsor for the Strathroy Blades.  A season’s ticket was one of the rewards for being a sweater sponsor, so I began attending games.  I thought it might be interesting to videotape some games to try and capture some memories.  One of the Rockets at that time, Ben Fryia, was billeting in town and renting movies from my store.  He noticed me watching the game tapes and asked to borrow them.  Ben then introduced me to Rocket management and suddenly I became the team videographer.

 

5. What do you find most rewarding about working with the team?

The word “volunteer” is derived from a word in Greek which means “to give freely of oneself with no thought of personal reward.”  As a volunteer with the Rockets, and in getting to know some of the volunteers from other teams in our league, we all share the joy of helping out in any way that we can.  No one volunteer position is more important than any other.  Our only reward is that some day we hope to see that young man with the “C” on his sweater raise that trophy over his head and we realize that we contributed to that championship in our own small way.

 

6. Besides your home rink, what’s your favourite arena to travel to? Why?

Well we need to look at this from a few different angles.

If we were talking about atmosphere, then definitely Chatham and Sarnia would be the clear choices.  The Rockets’ rivalry with these two franchises are intense.  Both the Maroons and the Legionnaires play in classic buildings with wild, enthusiastic fans.

From a broadcaster’s perspective, Chris Soares and I get stuck in some rather poor areas to call a game from.  This is not the fault of the organization, very little thought is put into press boxes when new arenas are built.  All the clubs try to help us as well as they can, however that often means being at ice level, in an end zone, or up in a corner of the rink.  A phone line is necessary to broadcast a game and many rinks do not have the necessary phone lines for a radio broadcast, so we are forced to run a line from a Minor Hockey fax machine like we do in Leamington and St. Thomas.  We are very grateful to Skate Sarnia’s Art for allowing us access to the Skate Sarnia booth.  That is our best location in the league.  We have a nice center ice location in St. Marys in the standing room area.  Chatham is hoping to get us into the radio booth this season if it is not being used.  That would be a most welcome change from our present broadcast location above the zamboni entrance in the end zone.

The most accommodating rink in the West would be in Forest.  Their staff are the most helpful and polite of any that we visit and as a bonus they have the best fries in the West.

I also enjoy our longer bus coach trips to LaSalle and Leamington.  It is nice to gather as a team, get some rest on a bus and enjoy the camaraderie with the players and staff.

Being able to take a trip once a year to my former hometown of St. Catharines for the Showcase Game is a huge thrill for me, as is a trip to Leamington to visit with league historian Scott Holland.

 

7. What arena do you hate going to? Why?

It would have to be London, Leamington and LaSalle.  These rinks have the poorest broadcast positions for Chris Soares and myself.  In London and Leamington, we are set up deep in the corner in the standing room area.  Considering that both of these rinks have Olympic sized ice surfaces it is incredibly difficult to call with any degree of certainty what is happening in the opposite end of the ice.  As well, London is likely the quietest rink in the West, almost devoid of any atmosphere whatsoever.  LaSalle would have our poorest location to broadcast a game.  We are set up at ice level behind the net that LaSalle defends for two periods.  Our view is constantly being blocked by players and officials.  Play at the opposite end of the ice is almost impossible to decipher, as well as the identity of any player skating towards you.

 

8. What do you like to do outside of the rink?

Being the sole proprietor of a video store, my off-ice time revolves around my business, where I spend 80 hours a week.  Music has always been a big part of my life, I enjoy listening to metal and classical.  My pet Savannah cat Scout also takes a great deal of my time.  She loves playing hockey and we have a lot of fun together.

 

9. Favourite memory from volunteering.

I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of two OHL championships with the St. Catharines Black Hawks and two Western Conference titles with the Strathroy Rockets.  Other than winning a championship, my biggest thrills would be seeing two of our former players, Andy McDonald and Jeff Carter win Stanley Cups.  Another great thrill was seeing former Rockets Scott O’Conner, Joey Talbot, Jeff MacLean, Scott Dickie and Josh Beaulieu win Memorial Cups.  Realistically, our best hockey rewards come whenever one of our players gets an opportunity to play at a higher level and our best rewards of all, occurs when any of our players develops into fine young men.

Being a billeting parent was a tremendous experience and one that I will always remember and cherish.  Sharing the joys, challenges and heartbreaks of a hockey season with the players was an unbelievable experience.  I would most heartily recommend anyone to open their homes and their hearts and becoming a billeting parent.

My favourite Rocket game would have to be game seven of the 1999-2000 semifinals.  The Rockets finished in 5th place that season and after disposing of the 4th place St.Thomas Stars in five games drew the very talented second place Sarnia Bees.  After falling behind 3 games to 2 in the series, the Rockets whipped the Bees in game 6 at the West Middlesex Memorial Centre on a Saturday night.  Game seven was a Sunday matinee the following afternoon at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre.   The team gathered for breakfast at the WMMC Sunday morning and headed to Sarnia.  Despite trailing on the scoreboard after the first period, the Rockets rallied with 4 goals from Jeff Campbell all on beautiful setups from linemate Rob McFeeters.  Steve Benedetti sealed the series with a pair of empty net goals.  It was the most emotional series that I ever had the honour to be a part of.  At that time it was the biggest playoff upset in Strathroy hockey history.

You all know that I am a die-hard Rockets fan, but I am also a die-hard GOJHL fan, having been watching Jr. B hockey since I was 10 years old. I will only watch the GOJHL and during the hockey season, you never know what arena RG is gonna show up at.

I’m bringing you the games, news, and updates of the GOJHL.

RG is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheRocketGirl16 and you can find me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheRocketGirl16

If you hear of anything about any of the teams in the GOJHL, or have questions about anything, feel free to post it. If I don’t know the answer, I know how to find it.

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