Beloved Fernie Ghostriders captain Mitch Titus played his last game for the Junior B team on February 28.
Asked how the past three years with the franchise had been, he was at a loss for words.
“It really helped me mature as a person,” said Titus.
“I went from 18-years-old, not knowing how to clean a toilet, to upgrading my schooling, so that I can try to be the best I can be.”
During his first year with the Ghostriders in the 2014/15 season, Titus lacked confidence as a player.
At the time, he was just focused on finishing the season, going to school and getting on with life.
After just one game, Titus says that Coach Craig Mohr instilled enough confidence in him to make him want to perform and do better. He said that their relationship over the past four years was what transformed him into a good hockey player.
“He was a guy that I always wanted to perform for, that I always wanted to give 110 per cent,” he said. “That’s pretty hard to find in a coach.”
By his final year, the five-foot-seven right winger from Fruitvale, B.C. became the hometown favorite. His integrity as a hockey player also shone both on and off the ice.
Titus said he enjoyed being a leader for “a great group of guys”.
Although he wished he could have stayed in Fernie, in the team’s own familiar dressing room, he was inspired by the support the Ghostriders received from the Fernie and Sparwood communities.
“I’ve got another 20 best friends after this year,” said Titus, referring to his team, which was mostly comprised of rookies.
Originally from a small town of approximately 3500 people, Titus said that he was grateful that he was able to move to another small town and feel accepted. He believes he is leaving with much more than he arrived with.
This year marked the 18th year since Titus first strapped on his skates. In minor hockey, this was his 16th. The now 20-year-old has been approached by several schools who want him to play hockey for them.
He is also considering some schools that would result in him hanging up the skates, but accelerate academically.
The ex-captain says he’s always wanted to attend post secondary school, but never thought he would be able to pursue hockey at the same time.
“I think having opportunities to do that, that’s what’s really special to me… the fact I was able to achieve a goal I never thought was possible, that’s pretty great,” he said.
Titus added that Coach Mohr worked hard to unlock a large variety of schooling options for him, and he was extremely grateful for this.
While he was playing hockey, it consumed his life.
“It’s really hard to do anything else besides that,” he said.
When the players were still in Fernie, Titus said they were waking up at 5:30 in the morning to practice before community events or volunteering began.
From helping out with the Salvation Army to teaching kids how to skate, the Ghostriders are always out and about.
After this the daily workouts begin, including meal plans to stay healthy.
“It’s a pretty great life though,” said Titus.
He admitted that before starting with the Fernie team, he wasn’t a hugely community-minded person.
But as he was filling out university forms, he saw that 10 slots were allocated to community work.
Titus filled out the 10 slots and said he could have filled at least 20 more.
He says that the past four seasons with the Ghostriders have been a wild ride, and he would do it again in a heartbeat.