Regina, Saskatchewan - The Regina Thunder Football Club, a prominent team in the Canadian Junior Football League, is set to embark on their 2023 season with a powerful new philosophy guiding their path to success. Inspired by the African proverb Ubuntu, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of humanity, the Thunder have adopted a mindset that goes beyond the football field. With a determination to reach new heights and foster a culture of unity, the Thunder have woven the principles of Ubuntu into the fabric of their team, focusing on their collective growth and shared vision.
The Thunder, founded in 2001, have had their fair share of ups and downs. Despite their notable achievements, including a National Championship win in 2013, they have often fallen short against their fierce competitors, the Saskatoon Hilltops. However, recent seasons have seen a significant transformation within the Thunder's program, fueled by the introduction of Athlete Development Coordinator, John Tokar in 2018.
Tokar's vision focused on creating a winning culture within the team, built on trust, unity, empathy, and respect. Under his guidance, the Thunder have experienced a remarkable shift both on and off the field. "Our program strives to develop not only great athletes but also exceptional individuals," Tokar emphasizes.
One of the foundational elements influencing the Thunder's new culture is the philosophy of Ubuntu. Introduced to the team through the book "Legacy" by James Kerr, which recounts the triumphs of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team, Ubuntu resonated deeply with the Thunder's leadership group. Ubuntu, meaning "I am because we are," encapsulates the team's belief in the interconnectedness of all individuals and the importance of fostering a supportive community.
"The concept of Ubuntu helped us understand that true success extends beyond personal achievements," reveals Ryland Leichert, Thunder player. "Ubuntu reminds us that we are part of a larger whole, and our actions impact the collective spirit of the team and the community we represent."
The Thunder's commitment to Ubuntu is evident in their extensive community outreach efforts during the offseason. From assisting local charities and organizations to volunteering in various community initiatives, the players demonstrated their dedication to giving back. Projects such as sorting food donations, helping with business setup, coaching young flag football players, and maintaining facilities exemplify the Thunder's belief in the power of community service.
Recognizing the significance of community support, the Regina Thunder also launched the "Kick for a Cause" initiative. With every special teams point scored, $5.00 is donated to the ALS Society of Saskatchewan. This cause held personal significance for former Thunder kicker Eric Maximuik, whose father succumbed to ALS during his high school years. Maximuik's heartfelt endeavor exemplifies the Thunder's commitment to making a positive impact beyond the football field.
Head coach Scott MacAulay acknowledges the vital role of the community in the Thunder's journey. "We understand that success is not solely measured by victories on the field," states MacAulay. "Character and community involvement are equally significant, and we aim to build exceptional individuals while nurturing a winning culture."
As the Regina Thunder prepare for the 2023 season, their adoption of Ubuntu and dedication to community service sets them apart. The Thunder's commitment to character development and their recognition that success extends far beyond the gridiron embody the true spirit of Ubuntu. With each player embracing the philosophy of "I am because we are," the Thunder are poised to challenge not only their rivals but also their own limits. Through Ubuntu, the Thunder aim to inspire not only their fans but the entire community, fostering unity and creating a legacy that extends far beyond the football field.
In the words of a Leichert, "In embracing Ubuntu, we strive to be more than just a football team. We want to be role models, ambassadors of goodwill, and catalysts for positive change. Our goal is to leave a lasting impact on our community, both through our on-field performances and our off-field contributions. Ubuntu reminds us that together, we can achieve greatness and uplift those around us."
The Thunder's journey toward embracing Ubuntu has not gone unnoticed. Their efforts and commitment to community service were recognized when they were awarded the prestigious Rick Smoke team award for exemplary community service in 2022. This honor further solidified their belief in the transformative power of Ubuntu and strengthened their resolve to continue making a difference.
As the Thunder step onto the field for the 2023 season, their Ubuntu-inspired mindset will permeate every aspect of their performance. They understand that success is not solely determined by wins and losses but also by the positive impact they have on the lives of others. By prioritizing character development and fostering a culture of unity, respect, empathy, and selflessness, the Thunder aim to create a legacy that extends far beyond championships.
The Regina Thunder organization, from the coaching staff to the support personnel and volunteers, has fully embraced the Ubuntu philosophy. It is a shared belief that success is not achieved in isolation but through collective effort and the support of the entire community. With each player wearing the Ubuntu proverb proudly on their t-shirts, they are not only representing the Thunder but also spreading a powerful message of unity and humanity.
The Thunder's journey is a testament to the transformative power of Ubuntu, a philosophy that transcends cultural boundaries and resonates with people from all walks of life. As they continue to build a winning culture rooted in community and character, the Regina Thunder serve as an inspiration to not only aspiring athletes but also to anyone striving to make a positive impact on the world.
In the words of John Tokar, Athlete Development Coordinator, "Ubuntu has become the guiding principle that drives us forward. It reminds us that our true strength lies not only in our physical abilities but also in the connections we build, the empathy we show, and the positive impact we have on others. Through Ubuntu, the Regina Thunder are committed to leaving a lasting legacy of unity, compassion, and excellence."
With their unwavering commitment to Ubuntu, the Regina Thunder are poised to rise above their previous shortcomings and forge a new path of success. As the 2023 season unfolds, all eyes will be on the Thunder, not only for their prowess on the football field but for their embodiment of the profound African proverb that has come to define their journey: Ubuntu - "I am because we are."