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Back in Berwick: Family, athletics, community paramount in life of RCMP officer


Sports, career bring Wilson full circle

NEW MINAS, N.S. —

Both as an RCMP officer and an athlete, life has brought him full circle back to his home community of Berwick.

Const. Jeff Wilson of the Kings District RCMP left home to attend university and play varsity hockey before returning to Berwick to do a teaching practicum for his Bachelor of Education degree.

“When the town police were absorbed by the RCMP, it just happened that I was back in Berwick finishing off that practicum and got involved in the auxiliary program,” Wilson said.

He continued to participate in the RCMP’s community policing auxiliary program while teaching in Berwick for a couple of years. He decided to apply to the RCMP and went to Regina for his training in 2002. Wilson worked as an RCMP officer in British Columbia and Newfoundland before returning home to the Valley.

Wilson said that when he got the position as an auxiliary constable, he did a lot of bike patrols and this continued into his early career with the RCMP. He is now the school safety resource officer for western Kings County and the media relations officer for the district. Wilson is again doing bike patrols, in Wolfville and Berwick.

“Now I’m back doing some bike patrols this summer, and so it’s kind of come full circle especially being in the same geography and in the same area, but it also makes it kind of special, too,” Wilson said.

From an RCMP member’s perspective, he said it’s rewarding to go back into schools in his position as a school safety officer and to make a positive impact on the lives of young people in Kings County.

He said one thing he benefits from in his role is that, many years ago, he was sitting in some of the same classrooms dealing with some of the same issues that today’s kids are dealing with. Wilson can relate to them and he sees this as beneficial in terms of the advice he can give. He finds it rewarding to give back to his community in this way.

SPORTS HALL OF FAME

On June 15 – Father’s Day weekend – both Wilson and his dad, Bill, were inducted into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame. This was the first time that a father and son were inducted in the same ceremony. They became the second and third generations of the family to be inducted, joining Bill Wilson Sr., who was inducted as a builder in 2003.

A gifted hockey player who has also played varsity football, Jeff was inducted as an athlete. His father was recognized for his curling accomplishments and for his work helping to develop various sports in the Berwick area. The ceremony took place in the Wilson Room, which is in dedication to the contributions the family has made to the community.

Wilson said he had time to reflect prior to his induction and what he kept coming back to was how special it felt to be recognized by his home town. Another thing that made the evening so special was that it centered around family.

Aside from being inducted with his dad, his wife, five-year-old son, father-in-law, brother and other family members were there to share the experience.

Wilson said Berwick is a small town that is built around an arena, a tennis court, a playground and baseball field.

“That’s where we grew up. We were always outside and we were always playing something, whether it was baseball and soccer and tennis in the summer or if it was hockey in the winter time, it kept us busy and it kept us focused and structured,” Wilson said.

Looking at the sports memorabilia on the walls of the Kings Mutual Century Centre, he’s amazed at the number of great athletes and people that have come out of the little town.

NATIONAL CHAMPION

As a hockey player, Wilson was part of the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds team that won the Atlantic conference championship in 1997. They went on to win silver in the national finals in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The Reds again won the conference in 1998 and went on to win the national championship in Saskatoon, a first for UNB.

“The program really rose to the national level while I was there and I’m fortunate for that experience,” Wilson said.

Members of the 1998 championship team have been granted UNB fellowships, essentially lifetime status as UNB Reds. In 1999, Wilson was presented with the Mark Jeffrey Memorial Trophy, which is presented to the player who exemplifies leadership and dedication to the Reds. He was inducted onto the City of Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame as an outstanding athlete in 2012.

“There’s a lot of congratulations still and a lot of positive energy around that 1998 team still to this day,” Wilson said.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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