NEW GLASGOW – Sunday afternoon Mark Hominick was just one of the boys - he was back to his roots.
In town over the weekend for Pictou County Roots for Youth fundraisers, the former UFC fighter was giving some pointers during a training session at the Titans Jiu Jitsu Academy in New Glasgow yesterday. Although he has fought on the world stage, training at a small club still means a lot to him.
“This is a good turnout and normally a 20-30 person seminar is ideal because sometimes if you get too big of a group they don’t get to take home the hands on approach,” he said. “This club reminds me of where I started and I think a lot of champions are built in gyms like this. My first gym was in the basement of a church, so it brings me back to that hunger and where people start. It’s easy to work hard when everyone has their eyes on you, but it’s hard to work hard when you’re in a basement gym or a garage gym putting in the blood, sweat and tears.”
The seminar, Rollin’ for Roots, was the second fundraising event of the weekend for Roots for Youth. Through the training session, the 30-40 participants raised $800 for the charity according to organizer Derek Clarke.
Throughout the entire weekend they raised over $8,000, with the third annual Charity Golf Scramble on Saturday at Abercrombie Country Club doing most of the fundraising. Clarke said they had roughly 130 golfers participate and they raised over $5,000 through the auction alone.
“I want to explain to people, like I said yesterday at the golf tournament, you came out here and paid $125 and had a fantastic day. Now you realize how easy that $125 was to spend to come here,” said Clarke. “Go home and realize how good of a person you are because this winter when these kids have nowhere to stay they will be eating a meal that you paid for. Realize that not only are you having a good day, but you are helping people in the community and it’s people that have no help.”
New Glasgow native and MMA fighter Matt MacGrath was also part of both fundraisers over the weekend. Now a resident of Cornwall, P.E.I., MacGrath was happy to be home to help a local charity and train at the New Glasgow gym.
“I’m from here and probably know 80 per cent of the guys on the mat here because I grew up doing judo with Jaret (MacIntosh),” he said. “I was excited to come home for the weekend – I’m not a very good golfer – but I was excited to be involved. We had a lot of fun on the golf course yesterday and I was happy to be part of it because it’s for a great cause.”
Two-time Olympic snowboarder Sarah Conrad, three-time Olympic kayaker Karen Furneaux and Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens affiliate) goaltender Joey MacDonald were also part of the charity golf tournament.
“I love giving back and I think as pro athlete I think it’s a responsibility that you should have, giving back to the community,” said Hominick. “Kids is something I’m very supportive of. We have a similar group in London, Ontario that we support, so it was an easy decision to come out here.”
With this year being the first year for Saturday’s autograph session and Sunday’s training seminars, Clarke was able to see how his new endeavours worked out and will look at how to continue to improve the weekend of fundraising in the future.
“It has grown every year by almost 30 per cent, so there are a lot of things,” said Clarke. “It’s just little things about getting a few more teams and just trying to build up these events. We had the autograph session at Central yesterday and we might have had 15-20 people show up, so that’s disappointing because you have a barbecue and all that kind of stuff. There’s no quit in me though and I’m going to keep working at growing Roots for Youth.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris