Hockey pro co-authors children’s book about bullying

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Eric Fehr “lives out his beliefs”

Brought up in a Christian home in Southern Manitoba’s Bible Belt, Pittsburgh Penguins hockey star Eric Fehr is an athlete who doesn’t take his faith lightly.

In fact, if there is a single player in the National Hockey League who lets his faith guide every aspect of his career, it’s the big Pens right-winger.

Of course, to understand how this works, one has to understand where Fehr came from and how his faith has led him through good times and bad.

“I think the biggest thing faith has done for me as a professional athlete is to put life in perspective,” says Fehr, who attends an Anabaptist church with his wife Rachel. “There is a lot more to life than hockey. Your worth is not decided by how good a hockey player you are or how people judge you as a hockey player.”

“It also think it gives me strength to get through tough times because I believe all things happen for a reason.”

Fehr lives his beliefs. He might be a big tough hockey player, but off the ice, he is committed to treating others as he wishes to be treated. And with that in mind, Fehr dedicated the summer of 2014 to a project that was deeply important to him—writing a book that would address bullying in schools.

It was an idea he had a number of years ago, first in the form of a title. He started working on a couple of story lines and then partnered with Pamela Duncan Edwards, an author known for children’s titles that include Clara Caterpillar, Roar! A Noisy Counting Book and Some Smug Slug.

Edwards and Fehr worked on the words while Kate Komarnicki drew the illustrations. The finished product, The Bulliest Dozer, has been available for nearly a year and all proceeds have gone to U.S. and Canadian anti-bullying charities.

“It’s about a bulldozer, Bo—all the machines are going to school, of course—who’s a bit of a bully at school,” says Fehr. “And he learns that it’s not what he wants to do at the end. It’s a pretty good story line, I think.”

“Bo learns the valuable lesson that acceptance and teamwork can lead to success. My hope is that this book will provide an opening for parents to discuss how important it is for children to accept one another and to treat their peers with respect. All forms of bullying including verbal abuse, cyberbullying and physical abuse are unacceptable, and whether the aggressor or the victim, I hope children read Bo’s story and realize there are steps they can take to reduce bullying.”

The bullying problem is something Fehr learned about as an adult. Back in Winkler, it wasn’t something anyone did or even talked about.

“When I was growing up I don’t even think we really even used the word bullying,” says Fehr, who has a two-year-old daughter. “People just did what they did in the playground and that was that.”

“Nowadays it’s become a bit of an issue in schools, especially with social media and phones. I think it’s great for the kids to have a better understanding of what bullying is and how it can negatively affect other kids. I’ve spoken at length with elementary school teachers about the dangers of bullying and creating ways to stop it. I hope the book has some impact on something we’d all like to stop.”

Fehr has overcome a lot in his career. These days he’s rehabbing from elbow surgery and won’t start playing this season until after Christmas.

He’s a tribute to the type of hockey player Manitoba produces every year. In this case, it’s a Christian athlete who is not only committed to the gospel, but who truly lives his beliefs.

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About the author

Special to ChristianWeek

Scott Taylor is a Winnipeg-based sportswriter and broadcaster.