Hockey player’s family keeps his legacy and his love for hockey alive.
When Craig and Judy Hamblin lost their youngest child and only son Cole to an aggressive cancer, their family, and their world, was torn apart. When a parent outlives their child, it’s tragic and painful, but the Hamblins, and their daughters Sam and Jena, are ensuring Cole’s legacy is never forgotten. They’ve created a scholarship in his name.
Cole loved hockey and played whenever he could; in the street, on the ice, in all seasons. If there was a game, he’d find it. Thanks to the Cole Hamblin Memorial Scholarship, the next generation of hockey players have the opportunity to play the game Cole loved so much.
“He loved playing hockey,” says Craig. “Every chance he got, he would be on the street, over at the rink, trying to get into the rink. He would stay on the ice all day long if he could, and then he’d be back out there at night.”
When away playing hockey at Guelph University in 2014, Cole complained of a sore back. After seeing pictures of her son, Judy noticed he had lost a lot of weight. Cole’s back pain was so unbearable that he wasn’t able to exercise. They flew him home and took him to the doctor, where they learned his spine had fractured from the stress of multiple tumors. Cole was diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma and was hospitalized in late September. On Nov. 5, just six short weeks after the diagnosis, he succumbed to the cancer. He was just 21-years-old.
The Cole Hamblin Memorial Scholarship is for young hockey players in the Eastman Minor Hockey Association, where Cole played when he was growing up. The award is given to a player who embodies the traits that made Cole such a beloved friend and teammate: positive attitude, sportsmanship, and most of all, a love and respect for the game of hockey.
After moving through the Eastman Minor Hockey system, Cole played for the Spokane Chiefs and Regina Pats in the WHL, and he also spent time with the Selkirk Steelers, Winnipeg Blues, Portage Terriers, and Virden Oil Capitals in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Every teammate, and even some opponents, spoke highly of Cole’s poise, humour, and positivity.
Craig, Judy, Sam, and Jena reflect on what kind of a man Cole had become, even in the darkest days.
“When we found out [the cancer] was stage four and terminal, it was just him and I together. That was really tough. That was the first time I had cried in front of him,” says Jena. “He was like, ‘Call mom and dad back, so they can come and comfort you.’”
“He always worried about everyone else,” says Sam. He always wanted to make sure we were okay. He was our little brother, but he was very protective of us.”
“That’s just the kind of guy he was, always. No matter what,” says Jena.
Every year, the Hamblins hold a golf tournament in support of Cole’s fund at The Winnipeg Foundation. Dozens of friends, family, and former teammates come out for a day of fun and remembering Cole.
In addition to the golf tournament, The Rink Training Centre hosts a three-on-three hockey tournament where dozens of his friends and former teammates play games in tribute to Cole.
Cole Hamblin affected the lives of everyone he came in contact with in a positive way, and through his memorial scholarship fund, his legacy will truly live on forever.
“We’ll always find a way to talk about him,” says Judy. “He’s always going to be a part of our lives, we’ll have to keep him living in spirit, through all of us. So that’s what we do.”
“Because his love and passion for hockey will live on through supporting others’ dreams.”The Hamblin Family, Winnipeg Foundation donors
Fund: Cole Hamblin Memorial Fund
Cause: Literacy, Education and Employment
Supports: A scholarship for young hockey players who love the sport as much as Cole did
To learn more about Causes, visit Find your BeCause
This story is featured in the Spring 2019 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.