In 1974, Cam Crosby (BSc ’74) and his teammates captured Waterloo’s first national championship. Now, a gift celebrating their friendship will help future hockey Warriors thrive.By Beth Bohnert Office of Advancement
It was 1974 and the Waterloo Warriors men’s hockey team had just clinched the CIAU championship. Assistant Captain Cam Crosby (BSc ’74), a veteran of the Toronto Marlboros and Kitchener Rangers, helped lead the team to the win.
Victory was sweet. But Cam says that it’s the relationships he built with his teammates that he treasures most from those days. "Some of my best friends today are from that group of players and their families."
Those friendships ultimately inspired the largest single gift in Waterloo Athletics & Recreation history. The resulting endowed award will enable future Warriors to benefit from their varsity hockey experience, long after the final buzzer sounds.
"Being a Warrior was a very important thing"
By the time Cam enrolled at Waterloo, he was already an accomplished athlete, with four seasons of Junior A hockey and a Memorial Cup win under his belt.
Cam excelled in sport, setting records in track and field, football and - of course - hockey. His athletic career at Waterloo culminated in that 1974 championship, the University’s first-ever national title. To recognize his many contributions, Cam was inducted into the Waterloo Warriors Hall of Fame in 1993.
Nearly fifty years after their championship win, Cam and his teammates still meet every few years for barbecues and other social events coordinated by former hockey team manager and fellow Hall of Famer Roy Wuertele.
"Every one of those gentlemen that I played with was dedicated to the team effort," Cam says. "Being a Warrior was a very important thing to us. It taught us the importance of discipline and hard work. Even now, I end my emails with ’Always a Warrior.’"
Recognizing the value of athletics
Growing up, Cam’s son Michael (BA ’05) witnessed the bond between his dad’s teammates. He experienced it himself when he joined Waterloo’s men’s varsity basketball team, where he was named Rookie of the Year in the 1995-96 season.
Michael is now CEO of the family business, Crosby Auto Group. Cam’s father, Gordon Crosby, launched the business locally when he purchased a Volkswagen dealership in Kitchener in 1966.
"My grandfather put everything on the line to purchase that dealership," Michael says. "My dad even contributed some of his hockey earnings, because they paid Junior A players back then."
Once the business became successful, Gordon wanted to establish an athletics award at the University in Cam’s name. "He saw how important Waterloo was in my dad’s life. He also was a very competitive, successful athlete himself [Gordon sprinted for Canada at the 1952 Summer Olympics], so he knew the value of athletics."
Sadly, Gordon never got the opportunity to create the award before he passed away. Instead, his grandson made it happen, establishing the Cam Crosby Hockey Excellence Award with a $250,000 gift to Warriors Men’s Hockey.
Both Cam and Michael have contributed to Waterloo Athletics & Recreation over the years. But after reading about Greg Somerville’s gift to Warriors Football , Michael was inspired to amplify those gifts through this new award.
"The reasons [for giving] that Greg cited and his experience as a student-athlete aligned so well with my dad’s and my perspective. And I thought ’Why not give now’’"
Competing to attract talent
Head coach Brian Bourque knows the value that this gift brings, both to individual student-athletes and the team as a whole.
The award will to treat the 20 to 30 hours a week they spend in training, practices and games "almost like a job," he says. "They won’t need to find part-time work during the school year and they can also reduce their financial load while earning their degrees."
The funding will also allow the team to compete with other universities when it comes to attracting talent.
"It’s very challenging to recruit student-athletes without offering significant scholarship money," Coach Bourque says. "It’s critical that we have access to awards if we’re going be in the mix."
"We’ve spent the last three years building an alumni committee to increase communication and engagement with former players. And having someone like the Crosbys step up and make such a significant donation shows that there’s support for our goal of building a program that’s going to contend nationally every year."
Having... the Crosbys step up and make such a significant donation shows that there’s support for our goal of building a program that’s going to contend nationally every year.BRIAN BOURQUE, Warriors Hocky Head Coach
Assisting student-athletes on their journeys
"It’s immensely rewarding to know that, in some way, we might be assisting some other student-athletes on their own journeys," Michael says. "If this award enables somebody to attend Waterloo who might not otherwise be able to, that would be incredible. And I’m still a competitive guy - if it provides resources to help the team be more successful, that would be great too," he says with a laugh.
Cam says he was humbled to learn of the gift made in his honour. But he’s excited to think of the opportunities it will offer to future hockey Warriors. Most of all, he says, "I hope they get to experience the camaraderie that we did as a team."
Photos: University of Waterloo Library. University of Waterloo Archives. Graphic Services Fonds.