Grieving parents of young Ontario hockey player struggle to find answers
OAKVILLE, Ont. –
When I was approached about this story, I was reluctant.
Not because it wasn’t compelling, but. I was reluctant mainly because I knew it would be emotionally difficult and because it was about a teenage boy who played AA rap hockey.
I look at my teenage son every day. I run him to the hockey rink, take him to team dinners, team building events and tournaments. I interact with other hockey parents and his coaches. I live exactly the same sporty parenting life Susan and Greg Tiger were living with their son Ben in 2019.
My teenage son also plays rap hockey. I have witnessed positive coaching and great experiences in sports and cultural practices involving alcohol at sporting events.
When we met with Susan and Greg in December 2022 to hear their story, I looked into their warm home. Their Christmas tree was up, photos of their youngest son, Ben, were stacked on the shelf, they were putting together a wall of family photos.
This will be the fourth Christmas they won’t have with Ben, who died suddenly at a team-building camp with his hockey team in September 2019.
When W5 met Ben Teague’s parents in December 2022, it would be the third Christmas they would not have with their son. (Provided photo)
We interviewed Susan and Greg separately. Susan was nervous. He told us he wants to make sure what happened to Ben doesn’t happen again, and that what happens on the team, stays on the team. She wanted to continue the investigation to find out what happened to her youngest son.
Greg spoke on camera for over an hour, a conversation that allowed him to share his greatest moments with Ben, when he was six years old, learning to skate, and his darkest moment, when he learned that Ben had passed. The process of interviewing bereaved parents is deeply moving and never fades.
The Teagues have put in a lot of effort. They independently interviewed many of Ben’s teammates with their parents and learned that there was a party at the 2019 camp, allegedly involving drinking, vaping, and drug-related electronic vapors called dab pens, and that the boys all went inside. :
He also learns that there is a maze at the camp where the older boys chased the newbies naked in a manhunt game last year, and that in 2018 Ben had won.
NOTE FOR EXAMS
They are frustrated with the police investigation, the medical investigation and the lack of accountability from the coaches. They say they believe valuable evidence has been lost in the more than three years since Ben’s death.
While working on the visuals we needed to tell this story, I asked Teiger if they had been at the hockey rink together since Ben’s death. They haven’t. It took a lot of courage for them to do that for this story.
I felt it would be too exciting for them to go into a rink where Ben would be playing, so we found a place in another city. We stood back to let them enter the empty rink we rented.
The parents of Ontario youth hockey player Ben Teague are searching for answers after he died during a team retreat in 2019. The mystery of what happened and the code of silence in hockey culture is explored in What Happened to Ben?
After about a week I knew I needed visuals of a teenage player skating on the ice, I knew we wanted to do pictures that represented Ben’s jersey, his stick, his skates.
I realized how precious those memories were with their son and that Ben’s Oakville Ranger uniform should never be worn again.
I asked my teenage son, who like Ben plays defensive back, if he would help me with these kicks and that he could just wear a regular jersey with no logos, no numbers.
He said. “Of course mom.” I showed him a picture of Ben and a video of Ben skating. He said. “Mom, he’s really great.” I said yes.” It wasn’t lost on either of us that we’d be in the arena at a playoff game on Saturday when this episode aired.
Watch the W5 documentary What Ever Happened to Ben on CTV Saturdays at 7pm
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