Andrew should be everyone's role model. He's certainly mine now. For those of you that don't know, Andrew is the captain of the Edmonton Oilers, but he's so much more than a celebrity athlete for our city. It probably sounds cliche, but Andrew truly is a leader on and off the ice.
Andrew grew up in Sherwood Park and has lived all over the world playing hockey. Last year, he moved his family to Edmonton from Boston. Back in Boston, he was involved early on with November Project - basically, a free public fitness class led by elite athletes. November Project caught on fast in Boston and has since spread to many other cities. When Andrew moved here, he introduced November Project to Canada (more on that later).
Besides working out with anyone who wants to join him, Andrew is no stranger to community events. He led the Edmonton Pride Parade this summer, arranged a stair/cycle challenge with MEC through the river valley (aptly named Dead Legs), and spoke to the NDP caucus about true leadership, just to name a few. He's an environmentalist too; he started a carbon neutral program for NHL players and gave a keynote address at Zero 2014. Again, these are all just highlights of the countless community events he's happy to be a part of.
If playing with the Oilers, planning community events, speaking at conferences and schools, and raising a family isn't enough, you'll be happy to know that he's also taking university courses on corporate social responsibility through Harvard. Note: He might be superhuman.
So here's what gets me about Andrew: he doesn't have to do any of this. He wants to. Sure, there are plenty of other Edmontonians who put in a lot of hours in their community. But on top of all this, he plays hockey. In the NHL. Not an easy career to land, let alone keep up for more than 15 years. To add icing on the Andrew Ference cake, he's incredibly down to earth. When I asked him how he does it all, he brushes it off as totally normal and manageable, like there is nothing extraordinary about his involvements. He really is an all around great guy.
Andrew's Favourite Places
Andrew admits that he hasn't had a lot of time to visit all the best restaurants and shops in Edmonton, but he has some go-to places. He assures me he knows a lot more parks and outdoor spaces than the average Edmontonian, just from all of his outdoor workouts.
go// Alberta Legislature Grounds - 108 Street & 98 Avenue
This is probably his favourite place to work out. There's grass, stairs, the wading pool (where they played British Bulldog for a November Project morning), etc.
go// MacKinnon Ravine - 142 Street & 100 Avenue
His favourite place to get onto the river valley trails on his bike.
shop// Red Bike - 10918-88 Avenue
When he moved here, a bike shop was one of the first places he needed to find. He likes that it's so close to trails and tucked in the University area. Andrew has found that university areas of any city have a welcoming vibrancy to them, which he loves.
eat & drink// Sugarbowl - 10922-88 Avenue
Conveniently located by the bike shop, he loves the beer selection, the casual atmosphere, and the mussels.
drink// Sherbrooke Liquor - 11819 St. Albert Trail
In Boston, he lived close to a grocery store that had a great selection of craft beer. He's not a huge drinker, but he enjoys trying new beers. When he arrived in Edmonton, a quick google search led him Sherbrooke Liquor, with one of the biggest beer selections in Canada. He likes the friendly staff and owners there too.
go// 124 Grand Market & City Market
Andrew likes the community feel at these markets. On Thursday, he goes to 124 Grand Market for the food trucks and social aspect. City Market is where he gets some good shopping done.
Andrew's Favourite Things
go// November Project
November Project is really cool. In Edmonton, everyone meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at various outdoor locations (Wednesdays = stairs at Commonwealth Stadium). 6am, rain or shine, hot or cold. If it's below -30C, you get a badge to show how badass you are. There's about 150 people that show up now, and it's open to anyone of any fitness level. Always free, just show up. If Andrew's in town, he'll be there to lead the class and high five you.
covet// Andrew's Cycle Cross Bike
It's the perfect Edmonton bike that can go from pavement to gravel to dirt. He gets a LOT of use out of his bike.
covet// His November Project Backpack
No, you can't buy those. He just spray-painted the logo on his bag. He takes it everywhere and carries lots of goodies in it - snacks, hydration, school books, his computer, and more.
Andrew's Recommended Reads
read// How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer
Andrew says it's not super current, but it's still a relevant, good read.
read// Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
A November Project tribe member who works at MacEwan recommended this to him. It's about residential schools and hockey, which is right up his alley (Andrew attended hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where elderly aboriginals spoke about abuse in residential schools).
Andrew's Personal Mantra
Andrew has a good mantra that he got from David Suzuki: You are what you do, not what you say. To him, it means keeping yourself honest, and "relying on yourself to call your own bullshit." If you haven't already figured it out, Andrew really is the real deal. His integrity is obvious through the events he's happy to be a part of and the down to earth conversations he will have with anyone who talks to him.
Andrew Ference is really active on Twitter. See what he's up to: @ferknuckle