When the Elmira Sugar Kings offered Brady Campbell a spot on the roster, they told him he should come to Elmira to check out the arena the Kings call home. The beautiful new Dan Snyder Memorial Arena is a selling point for the team, but Campbell didn’t need the pitch; he was already sold on the arena, the team and the town.
The connection between Campbell and Elmira goes back to 2004, the year Brady lost his friend and teammate Weston deBrouwer in an ATV accident. That December, the annual minor hockey tournament in Blenheim was dedicated to his memory. Knowing none of them would be able to speak about the loss, Brady’s father Brad invited Graham and LuAnn Snyder to the tournament.
Graham and LuAnn didn’t know Weston, but they knew what it was like to grieve for a son, having lost their own son Dan in a car accident the year before. In front of 2,000 players and parents that filled the rink to capacity, Graham talked about life and loss and how the two young hockey players, Dan and Weston, were alike.
Graham and Brad Campbell kept in touch over the years with occasional emails, and Graham issued a standing invitation: “If you’re ever in Elmira …”
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The Campbells finally took him up on the offer when Brady was invited to the Sugar Kings’ prospect camp in May.
“I got the invitation in the mail and decided that would be a place I wanted to play,” Brady said.
A week before the prospect camp, Brady and his father spent the morning with the Snyders, who took them on a tour of Elmira and the new arena and told them about the team.
“We were barely on the road home and Brady told me that’s where he wanted to play,” Brad said.
The visit happened unbeknownst to the Kings, who had scouted him without realizing there was a connection between the families. When they asked him to sign and told him the Snyders had agreed to billet him, it only made the decision that much easier for Brady.
It’s been seven years now since Dan Snyder died, but he continues to have an impact on his community; last year with the opening of the new arena named in his honour and now by bringing three families together.
“In connecting these events together; it’s as if Brady has the opportunity to thank Elmira and the Snyders for helping Blenheim and the DeBrouwers in 2004,” Brad Campbell said.