By Orrin Farries
The father-son sport legacy is a substantial oddity. Dell Curry and Stephen Curry, Bill Walton and Luke Walton, Archie Manning and Eli (and Peyton) Manning, to name a few.
These pro sports dads would of course bring their child up in the culture of the sport at its most vibrant. This would lend itself to having their sons follow in their footsteps, but the sporting world does not gladly suffer nepotism.
Case-in-point, Michael Jordan’s sons, Jeffrey Michael Jordan and Marcus James Jordan. The father-son sports duo is an impressive upturned nose at the chaos of the universe. What are the chances that a father and son should live in the same city around the time of high school graduation, enroll in the same technical institute and play for its prestigious collegiate hockey program?
Ladies and gentlemen, NAIT Ooks alumni Kevin and Cameron Larson.
Kevin Larson attended NAIT from 1979-1981 enrolled in the chemical technology program, and played defence for head coach Perry Pearn’s Ooks hockey team. Kevin took an interest in chemistry following high school and found his way amicably to NAIT through the suggestion of his cousin who was in the program.
His son Cameron’s path came together a little differently.
“At the end of his Junior Hockey career [Cam] had a couple of offers to go to some division III hockey programs down in the states, and the cost was quite high,” said Kevin.
“It would have cost $20,000 a year for Cam to go there[…] some of these guys go down to Div III in the U.S. and come back with nothing, a diploma that’s not recognized (in Canada),” said Kevin.
“I’d say [my dad going to NAIT] definitely had a part of it. My dad really enjoyed going to NAIT and playing hockey there. It was more so the course at NAIT that I wanted to take, and I was looking for a place to play hockey after Juniors,” said Cameron.
Cameron played 3 years of Junior hockey for both the Drayton Valley Thunder and the Melfort Mustangs. Always the rough and tough type, he picked up 258 penalty minutes in his junior hockey career.
NAIT’s championship-pedigree program re-worked his on-ice aggression, finding the penalty box for just over an hour in his two-year career at NAIT.
Both men found great enjoyment in their time as NAIT Ooks, remembering most fondly the bonds they formed with their teammates.
“The friendships and all the stuff outside of hockey [is what I remember most fondly],” said Cameron.
“I remember having such a good time. The alumni association really talks about being a brotherhood, and I really found that with the NAIT Ook program. Once you were an Ook, you are always an Ook. I believe that started with the Perry Pearn era,” said Kevin of his years at NAIT.
The real meat of what brought both guys to NAIT was always education, which allowed them both the opportunity to break into successful career fields.
“The biggest thing was the brotherhood, going through the program, meeting so many guys, and playing such a high level of hockey and still being able to get [an education],” said Kevin.
Cameron, a graduate from the construction engineering technology program, currently works as senior coordinator at Bird Construction after working for years as a project manager.
Kevin retired on February 13 of this year after a long and successful tenure in a variety of positions for the Department of National Defence. From helping defend the goalie to helping defend our country, Kevin has done his cooking by the (b)ook.
Owing in large part to the fastidious work of the Ooks Hockey Alumni Association (OHAA), Kevin and Cameron, ‘Senior’ and ‘Junior’ as they’re known in the OHAA circles, currently play hockey every Saturday during the winter as part of the continued efforts of camaraderie of the OHAA.
This culminates every year at the Alumni Cup hosted at NAIT. Cameron has gotten the upperhand in the last two cups, but Kevin insists he’s the better hockey player.
“Cam definitely is–because he’s younger–faster and stronger, but I joke with him, I’ll say, ‘When I get home I’m gonna tell your mum I was the better hockey player today’,” said Kevin.
“It’s so neat to play (hockey) every Saturday with your son, though I do get some serious talking back from him.”