SASKATOON – Packing the stadium to the rafters, week after week, it’s an understatement to say the province of Saskatchewan is enjoying the Saskatchewan Rush. When the team moved to Saskatchewan, Grandma Rush stayed true to her team.
Of course that’s not her real name.
“No, it’s Joyce Souka,” she said while anxiously waiting for the final game of the regular season to get underway at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon. “I don’t go by that name here.”
When asked what she prefers to be called, the spunky 84-year-old promptly answers “Grandma Rush.”
Like any good grandparent, Grandma Rush has attended nearly every game since the team was established in her hometown of Edmonton in 2006, except, there’s no relation on the team.
“I adopted them all,” she said. “Everybody asks me which is your grandson and I say ‘all of them.’”
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It’s clear to see the team reciprocates the love right back to her.
As they wait in the wings for the start of their game, nervously jumping until they hear their name called queuing their entrance to the stadium, both Nik Bilic and Jeremy Thompson catch Grandma Rush in their peripheral.
The nerves seem to subside in that moment as both grown men give her a loving smile of acknowledgment, thanking her for attending with their expressions.
And attending the games is quite the feat for Grandma Rush since the team moved from Edmonton to Saskatoon.
“It’s hard. It’s tough to try to get here,” she admits referencing the 1100 kilometer round trip. But the senior citizen doesn’t let that stop her, catching rides on the Rush fan bus and with team insiders when she can.
“As much as I miss them, I love the fact that they’ve got a place they can call home where their people cheer them on. It’s super!” she said in true grandmotherly fashion.
“They deserve what Saskatchewan is giving to them.”
Struggling to fill seats in Edmonton, the team is now setting franchise attendance records with the last two games completely sold out. With tickets now available for the team’s first playoff game on May 21, 12,000 sold in the first four days they were available to the public, setting the pace for ticket sales in the National Lacrosse League.
Considering the game fall on the Saturday of May long weekend, the organization is impressed with early sales, recognizing it’s “a popular time for Saskatchewan residents to escape the city for their first weekend and the cottage” according to a news release from the organization.
Grandma Rush hopes to join the star-quality team for every game now that the Rush have made the playoffs. By now, she’s a bit of a Saskatchewan star herself.
She spends half-time posing for selfies and greeting fans, a break from her tireless sign hoisting during the game.
What got this Grandma hooked?
“It’s upbeat, it’s fast, it’s athletic” she said enthusiastically.
As Grandma Rush has adopted the team, and the province has adopted the sport, Saskatchewan is now adopting Grandma Rush as one of Global’s ‘Your People.”