Sports bring family together

Ha-Shilth-Sa, August 16, 2007

Norman Dennis has been coaching slow-pitch for many years, and his wife Rita has been by his side for all of it. Their family plays together on the Wolfpack team out of Vancouver. Dennis says being together and doing things together helps keep the family strong.

Vancouver — 

Norman Dennis is originally from the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and has been coaching slow-pitch for many years. He also coached floor hockey teams in the past.

Dennis was born in Port Alberni. His parents were William Dennis and Nora Elsie. Norman can be seen with his wife Rita, who is usually by his side at all sporting events. They have been married for 44 years.

Norman and Rita’s children are Nelson, Kathleen, Darlene, and Pamela. He has two brothers, William and Wayne, as well as two sisters, Laverne and Margaret.

When Norman and Rita travel to participate in sports they have both their children and grandchildren playing on their slow-pitch team called the Wolfpack from Vancouver. The Wolfpack is literally a family team. A majority of the players are either family and are also from Huu-ay-aht or have roots there.

Some of the players include Norman and Rita’s daughters Kathleen and Darlene, grandchildren Jeremy, Robert, William, Jamie Lynn, niece Tina and nephews Arthur, Carl and Clifford.

“When I was younger I grew up in the Bamfield area, and my interests included a variety of sports, like floor hockey, softball, slow pitch and soccer,” he said.

Norman first got involved in coaching his kids and other children that were nine and 10 years old in soccer.

The Wolfpack has travelled to many places, including Calgary and San Francisco, but much of their play is in the Vancouver area.

One of their favourite places though is to play in tournaments on Vancouver Island.

“I really enjoy coming to Vancouver Island, especially when I am in Nuu-chah-nulth territories. It is like a homecoming to me” said Dennis.

Norman is proud to have a family team, and also proud that he is of Huu-ay-aht ancestry. Being together and doing things together helps in keeping the family strong.

“Rita is like my assistant coach or manager and she is not only my strength, but also our team’s strength. She gives us support and inspiration,” Norman said. The Wolfpack are very thankful for all of Rita’s hard work.

There have been many highlights over the course of his sporting career. One that tops the list was taking his slow-pitch team to the Indian Games or Tlu-piich Games that the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council used to hold. He appreciated attending and playing in the games, as he got to visit many old friends and relatives that he had not seen for quite a while.

When asked what he loves about sports and coaching Norman responded, “It keeps me young and I love organizing games. I especially love to see our children and youth having fun. It helps to keep them off of the streets.”

Norman would also like to pass on a special message to all youth.

“Listen to your parents and grandparents and stay away from alcohol and drugs, especially drugs. Respect your elders and be nuu-shuk (strong).”

Norman is currently working in the Vancouver area as a floor salesman and has been doing this for the last 20 years. This includes all types of flooring, such as carpeting, tile, laminate and hardwood. Prior to this he was a fisherman, and a logger in the off-season, for 20 years.

His work ethic has paid dividends in his social and recreational life. He is fortunate to be doing something he loves and, just as important, with family members that he also loves.

Story by Jack F. Little