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OUR HOMETOWN: Longtime hockey mom keeps going with Williams Lake Stampeders

Karen Gertzen has been volunteering with the senior men’s hockey team over 20 years

When entering the arena for a Stampeder’s hockey game, often the first sight to greet you is the smiling face of Karen Gertzen.

Gertzen moved to Williams Lake in 1980 with her late husband Tom Hatter after he bought Windsor Plywood and promised her it would be for one year.

Fourty-five years later, she is still here and instead of moving, she has spent those decades convincing others to move to the lakecity in her role as a real estate agent with Crosina Realty.

Over her 35 years of selling real estate in town, she said things have changed tremendously, with the community having gone through economic challenges in mining and forestry, and the forest fires, followed closely by floods.

“I’ve got to say, our people here in Williams Lake are pretty resilient,” she remarked of her adopted home.

She said in her role as a realtor, people are always asking her why they should move to Williams Lake.

The reasons she gives them are simple, she said, there is everything here for families with children and the teams and activities for them have capacity and don’t cost “an arm and a leg.”

Gertzen and her late husband raised two children here, their daughter Jaime spending years in dance with Maureen Saunders and their son Jason growing up playing hockey.

Jason left town to finish his school with Notre Dame and played some junior hockey, and now lives in Kelowna and Jaime now lives in Airdrie, Alta., but both children still refer to Williams Lake as “home” and enjoy returning to visit.

“It was a great place for my kids,” she confirmed.

She also has a step son Tyler Gertzen, who lives in Kamloops and grew up in town.

Despite no longer having her children or grandchildren playing hockey locally, she volunteers with the Stampeders Hockey team organization, and at home games is usually behind the table selling tickets for the games.

“When you’re a hockey mom in this town, you get involved,” explains Gertzen, listing a series of the many jobs “hockey moms” usually take on including cooking meals, planning road trips and organizing uniforms.

“You get totally invested in it, it becomes a way of life.”

Gertzen and her husband Rick Gertzen, with whom she recently celebrated a 20-year wedding anniversary, are in it together, with Rick now on the executive as well as the vice president for the team’s board. It is even a family affair, with Rick’s brother Rob Gertzen also driving the team’s bus this season.

Karen is the team secretary and treasurer and was refurbishing the team’s jersey’s as she spoke to the Tribune staff about her volunteering with the team for the past 20 years.

“If it wasn’t for the local sponsors and the city of Williams Lake we wouldn’t be able to do this,” she said.

She and Rick enjoy spending time at Quesnel Lake in the summers when they can, though she admits with all the volunteering they do, they don’t make it out as much as they might like. She said she used to be heavily involved with the golf club and curling club but has slowed down in recent years, but still volunteers with the Williams Lake Stampede and many other events and she still works.

“We’re pretty busy.”

Read more: OUR HOMETOWN: Helping is what this Williams Lake local does

Read more: OUR HOMETOWN: Small business owner, community volunteer

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

After moving back to Williams Lake, where I was born and graduated from school, I joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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