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Vanstone: Carter Haroldson beams when playing for his teams - FlagSpin

Vanstone: Carter Haroldson beams when playing for his teams

Eleven-year-old Carter Haroldson is overjoyed to be playing team sports again following the lifting of some COVID-19-related restrictions.

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Carter Haroldson talked primarily about football after finishing a basketball game that was played on a converted hockey rink.

What could be better for a sports-loving 11-year-old kid?

“I’m super-excited to have sports back,” Haroldson said Sunday afternoon, when not even a mask could hide his wide smile. “They’re good for the body and good for the mind.”

Those were his initial thoughts after playing three-on-three basketball for the Rockets at Fairchild Park, where basketball hoops are set up inside what is an outdoor skating rink during the winter.

The basketball game completed a Saturday/Sunday sporting smorg that also included two Regina Youth Flag Football games with the Packers.

“He woke up Saturday morning and was beaming,” said Haroldson’s mother, Cyndi Cherney. “When he went to bed that night, he said, ‘Mom, I’m so glad football is back on!’ ”

Especially after 2020, when COVID-19 wreaked havoc with minor sports of all sorts.


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“Last year, we were fortunate enough to play Regina Minor Football in a different dynamic, and with restrictions, and some limited basketball,” Cherney recalled. “Flag football didn’t happen in the spring and he really missed it.

“The flag football games on Saturday and Sunday were amazing. It was sunny and there were smiling faces everywhere. It was good for the kids to get out and interact and good for everyone to have some normalcy after the past 15 months.”

Such was the sentiment precisely one week after the relaxation of COVID-related restrictions by the Government of Saskatchewan cleared the way for team sports to resume.

As soon as the green light was activated, Haroldson’s face also lit up.

“I love being with my friends and playing sports together with them,” he said. “Football, basketball, soccer … I love every sport.


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“The bad thing was that when COVID hit, I couldn’t do a lot of the things that I loved.”

The pandemic period was especially heartbreaking due to the deaths of his maternal grandmother, Stephanie Cherney, and a beloved Pomeranian named Ringo.

During Sunday’s flag football game at Regina Rugby Park, Haroldson paid a silent tribute to lost loved ones while catching two touchdown passes and also returning an interception for a major.

“I really like getting to the end zone,” he said. “When I have the ball, I think of it like my grandma and my passed-away pets are in the end zone, so I just try to run for them.

“When I got to the end zone, I felt like I was reunited with them. I’m so happy that football has allowed me to connect with my pets and my grandma.”


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The connections would not be possible without the efforts of his coaches, his teammates and everyone involved with getting the various seasons started on short notice.

“We are so grateful to people like (Football Saskatchewan director of operations and Regina Youth Club Basketball League convenor) Mike Thomas and organizations like RYFF for working crazy hours to get this off and running,” said Cherney, whose daughter Lila is also busier now that the COVID consequences are less apparent.

“The excitement, the joy … I can’t even put into words how great it is to be back on the fields.”

Well, actually, she can.

“Carter has just been in a better mood,” Cherney continued. “I don’t think people appreciate how tough this has been on kids. They can’t see friends, they’ve been in and out of school, and they’ve been abiding by restrictions. It has been hard enough for adults to wrap their heads around, let alone kids.”


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Not to mention a Kid Captain — a role that was filled when Haroldson, then nine, ran out of a tunnel at Mosaic Stadium and preceded the Saskatchewan Roughriders on to the field for a game on Nov. 2, 2019, only a days after he met Cody Fajardo.

“I was swelled up with excitement,” Haroldson said of his session with the Roughriders’ marquee quarterback. “I swear that I would have passed out if my mom hadn’t been there when I met him.

“It’ll be so cool to go to a Rider game again. I love seeing them come out of the tunnel with all the smoke and flames and fireworks. When we go to the first game, it’ll feel like reuniting with an old friend.”

Or like a trip to the end zone.

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Regina Leader-Post has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.


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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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