Campus Life

Courtney and Horns celebrate Movember

It would be easy for Andrew Courtney to feel disillusioned about his five years with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men's hockey team. A laundry list of injuries has left Courtney in the trainer's room or on the operating table as much as he's been on the ice.

Yet, despite leaving his family, moving across the country and having only played 20 games over the last two seasons, Courtney is not only at peace with his circumstance, he's thankful. Now, the Belleville, Ont. native says he wants to give something back – and he'll do so by growing a moustache.

"I decided to come out here to continue playing hockey and to further my education, which was the dream growing up," says Courtney, the impetus behind the Horns' Movember initiative (donate by following this link). "My mom's a high school teacher, and she always preached to me how important it was to get an education. This was an opportunity to do that, and it's been the best move of my life."

Moustache members of the Horns men's hockey team (front row from left); Andrew Gilbert, Lucio Pucci-Daniele, Ryan Letts and Dan Iwanski; (Back row from left) Dustin Moore, Andrew Courtney and Reese St. Goddard.

Movember, a campaign that originated in Australia in 2003, draws attention to and raises funds for the fight against prostate cancer. Last year, 35,156 people in Canada took up the cause and raised $7.8 million for Prostate Cancer Canada.

The program itself is simple, grow a moustache, collect pledges and the fund grows. For Courtney, the cause is personal, on a number of levels.

"Both my uncle and my grandfather have had to face prostate cancer in recent years and luckily for them, they caught it early and everything is well," says Courtney.

"In my five years, we really haven't done anything like this as a team. This is a way for me to say thank you to Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge for welcoming me into the community. I just wanted to give something back and try and get the community a little more involved with Pronghorns Athletics."

The Horns have been growing their mustaches since returning from a pre-season trip to Colorado, and are now selling tickets for a raffle that features a Los Angeles Kings jersey signed by the entire Kings team, as well as a Molson prize pack. The raffle will be drawn Nov. 20 at the Horns' home game against University of Regina Cougars. That night, all proceeds from the 50-50 draw will go to Prostate Cancer Canada, along with the raffle proceeds and money raised from a special promotion that sees U of L President Dr. Mike Mahon shooting pucks into the net between periods. As well, the team will be wearing special Pronghorns jerseys that will be available through silent auction, again with the proceeds to be donated.

"I didn't know how the team would react to this, but they've been great," says Courtney, a kinesiology major. "All the guys are growing their mustaches – some better than others – and now it's just a matter of selling tickets and getting as many people to the game as we can."

Andrew Courtney
Pronghorns forward Andrew Courtney displays the special edition jerseys that will be part of a silent auction at Saturday's Movember night at Nicholas Sheran Arena.

Courtney played 37 games his first season at the U of L, before being limited to just 26 games the next because of an ankle injury. In his third year, shoulder and knee problems would limit his participation to just five games. Last season, Courtney was off to a blazing start, scoring 13 goals in the team's first 15 games to lead the conference. Unfortunately, he blew out his knee just prior to the Christmas break and was lost for the rest of the year.

"At the beginning it was really stressful and depressing," he says of the eight-month rehabilitation process following the anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery. "Having the support of the guys, my family and friends, was huge. They helped me get through this process, this long road, and without them I couldn't have done it."

It's why he wants to say thanks to southern Alberta. That it might lead to helping any number of men in the long run is an added bonus.

"Coming here, I didn't know anyone other than Steve (Zmudczynski) and we were the only guys from Ontario on the team," says Courtney. "As the years have gone on and I've met more people, I've really been accepted as just another member of the community. It's been overwhelming to experience that."


· Courtney played Junior A Tier II hockey in Trenton, Ont. before his final season of eligibility, when he played for the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara Falls Thunder.

· He has had three knee surgeries on the same knee in the last 18 months, two arthroscopic procedures and a total ACL reconstruction.

· Movember raffle tickets are available from Horns hockey players or in the Horns Athletics office (PE210).

· Courtney scored a power play goal against University of Manitoba, Oct. 29. It was his first game in 11 months following knee surgery.