Chad Peterson: The Man Behind The Plan
“When I moved here, I found out the Chatham Maroons played here,” explained Peterson, who moved from Whitby, Ontario less than a decade ago, about his passion for Chatham’s Junior B hockey team. “When I went to the first game, I enjoyed it, and I just kept going.”
Peterson can be seen sitting behind the opposition’s net at all Maroons games with his goal light helmet on, an activity that lovingly earned him his “Superfan” nickname. This spring, Peterson was front and center in Chatham’s Kraft Hockeyville bid, a goal he started working toward after another local Kraft event.
“I had a dream. It was something I saw when I went to Wallaceburg to the Kraft Celebration Tour,” explained Peterson, who works locally doing car detailing. “I said, Chatham-Kent is hockey, we breathe hockey. “
It’s that passion that helped earn Memorial Arena in Chatham $100,000 in upgrades following a successful online campaign and vote, which fell just shy of the overall title of Hockeyville and an NHL preseason game, an honour that went to North Saanich, British Columbia.
“The kids play here, the parents and grandparents go skating here; everybody uses Chatham Memorial Arena. I thought, what a good thing for 2015 to try to get this.”
“Everybody enjoys Chatham Memorial Arena, we want to keep this arena. It’s kind of like Maple Leaf Gardens was; it has history and something for everyone.”
While Peterson deserves the lion’s share of recognition for Chatham’s Kraft Hockeyville success, he says it was a strong community effort, and the team behind him that made this success possible.
“I shouldn’t get all the thanks, there were a lot of people working behind me. They should get a big pat on the back,” said a humble Peterson. “They did all the preparation. I did my thing. I was the cheerleader for Chatham-Kent, but the people behind me made all the events happen.”
For Peterson, seeing Chatham-Kent’s name announced as a finalist was a dream come true.
“That was this awesome feeling. When you saw the other communities disappear off the screen, but we were still up there, “Chatham-Kent, Ontario,” I was just so happy.”
While others had their doubts about how successful the bid would be, Peterson proved he is not only the Chatham Maroons’ “Superfan,” but he’s Chatham-Kent’s “Superfan,” one who never stopped believing in his community.
“People thought, ‘we’re not going to get this,’ but I didn’t give up, I kept going, because I believed in Chatham-Kent, I believed in the kids that play hockey here.”
That determination has paid dividends for Chatham Memorial Arena, home of Peterson’s beloved Maroons, and the community of Chatham-Kent as a whole.
“Getting that money, it’s just great. It means we can take care of the old barn and make it a better place. The NHL game would have been icing on the cake, but I’m happy for Chatham-Kent.”