An Ottawa police officer hoped to be able to listen to his seven-year-old son’s hockey game on the radio as he recovered from triple bypass heart surgery Wednesday night — a broadcast made possible thanks to Algonquin College radio students.
“It’s been a great source of motivation and I’m getting all welled up here. It’s pretty special,” said Stephen McDougall, a 47-year-old detective with the Ottawa Police, just hours before he was set to undergo the operation at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
Two weeks ago, after coaching his son’s hockey practice, McDougall said a strong pain began at the top of his chest. After driving himself to the Kemptville hospital emergency room, he was diagnosed. “I had had a heart heart attack and would require an angiogram to determine damage to my heart and be scheduled for bypass. It was a big shock. I was lucky.”
Out for the season as the coach of his son Gavin’s team, the Kemptville Panthers, McDougall has been buoyed by support from parents of the players as well as the community. “Gavin’s Grade 2 teacher cooked a meal for us that we ended up eating here while we watched the Super Bowl in hospital,” he said. “I wanted to say thanks to family and friends who have been supportive.”
Not only that, but Algonquin College students heard McDougall’s story and wanted to do something special to get him back in the game.
“The fact this guy can listen from his hospital bed, I think it’s going to have a huge impact,” said Algonquin College’s CKDJ 107.9 FM Sports Director Colin Teskey, who will deliver a play-by-play of the game between McDougall’s Novice B team, the Kemptville Panthers and the South Grenville Rangers.
“For a hockey story like this, this is something TSN could cover,” said Teskey. “We would love to cover the three or four games coming up while he’s still in hospital.”
McDougall said that he will have a five day stay at the Heart Institute and then months of recovery from the surgery.
“It sounds corny, but my favourite thing is just the smiles the kids have when they go out on the ice,” he said. “We push the team aspect of it. Tobogganing days, gym days, fundraising. It’s not just hockey, it’s a bunch of stuff that makes a team.”
Correction: This article originally stated Gavin McDougall is eight-years-old.