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It was a special night for the Michalchuk brothers on Friday as Rylan, left, Jess, centre, and Tony were recognized for their five-year careers with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team. The brothers were introduced at half-time and acknowledged as the only family to have three brothers each complete five years of eligibilty with the team.
There must be something in the water in Foam Lake.
That a small centre such as that in east central Saskatchewan can produce so many talented athletes is pretty impressive.
NHL hall of famer Bernie Federko comes from that community as does former Prince Albert Raider and NHL star Pat Elynuik. There are also the Michalchuk brothers – Rylan, Jess and Tony – who each played five years with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and were honoured during half-time of Friday’s CIS game between the Huskies and University of Manitoba Bisons.
“It was the fifth-year recognition game and they invite all alumni who played out their five years of eligibility,” explained Rylan Michalchuk prior to putting his Carlton Crusader football team through a workout earlier this week. “They recognized me and my brothers as we are the only family to have all three brothers play five years.”
Rylan was a linebacker with the Huskies from 2000-04, Jess was a defensive back from 2001-05 and Tony was also a linebacker from 2007-11. By coincidence, Rylan and Tony both wore jersey No. 37.
All three also went through the college of education and now are all teaching at schools around the province. Plus, they are coaching their school football teams.
Rylan is the athletic director and head football coach at Carlton, Tony is at St. Joseph’s in Saskatoon and Jess teaches in Outlook and runs the six-man football program with that school.
Having known about the special evening since Easter, Rylan says it was rather funny having his team play St. Joseph’s in a Saskatoon High School Football League game on Friday and then after the match he and his brother Tony hopped in the car and drove up to Griffiths Stadium together to be there for the ceremony (St. Joseph’s had beaten Carlton 55-28).
“It’s awesome to have two brothers share the same passion and interest in football,” says Rylan. “When we get together we always have lots to talk about – ideas to share.”
Rylan appreciates the fact that what they did was something pretty special, but he gives a lot of credit to their success and career paths to experiences they had in Foam Lake.
“A huge part of us being involved in football and teaching is the experience we had of going to school in Foam Lake,” says Rylan. “The teachers were all involved in extra-curricular activities and it exposed us to that.”
“We get so much from being in extra-curricular activities and it helps build a sense of community,” adds Rylan. “It teaches you values like dedication and commitment.”
Rare is it that three brothers follow similar paths, but the Michalchuks have done that and prospered. Rylan now has to shift gears from one family to another as he prepares his team for a quarter-final match against the league-leading Walter Murray Crusaders tonight in Saskatoon.
“We were able to get the team (Carlton) tickets (for Friday) so that was special,” says Michalchuk.
Seeing their coach being recognized for his accomplishments on the field might just be the motivation needed to give him more success off the gridiron. Regardless of the outcome it has been a week to remember.