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From Serbia to Sundre: hockey player in self-imposed isolation

Adam Beukeboom trying to stay preoccupied

SUNDRE - A former Sundre hockey goaltender who was playing with a team in Serbia got home just as the European country declared a state of emergency as the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world.

“It’s crazy,” said Adam Beukeboom, after being asked his thoughts on the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

“The day I left, they declared a state of emergency in Serbia. Just (in March 17), they initiated a curfew, because no one was listening,” said Beukeboom, who was in the middle of a workout and took a brief break to share his experience when contacted.  

Up until the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, Beukeboom had been goaltending for HK (Hockey Klub) Vojvodina, in Serbia. Vojvodina is a northern region in Serbia, and the team is based out of the city of Novisad.  

One of his teammates from Québec, he said, was fortunately able to fly out the following day and also managed to make it safely home.

“It’s really great to be back, especially under the circumstances,” he said, adding that he had been away from home for six months and did not get a chance to visit during the holidays this year.

“In a sense, it makes you that much happier to be home,” he said.

Interestingly though, he said the pandemic has from a certain perspective given everybody a chance to slow down a bit to reflect and recharge.

“Even though we can’t see everyone we might want to see, we nevertheless have a chance to relax.”

The situation in Europe seemed more hectic, largely as a result of the greater population density over there. But even so, he was pleasantly surprised by how people were by and large conducting themselves very respectfully.

“I will say, travelling home was probably one of the nicest travelling experiences I’ve ever had,” he said.

“No one was pushing or rushing. People knew to stay away from one another. People were really good about it — it was nice.”

After arriving in Canada, he was able to settle back in Sundre for 14 days of isolation.

"It's self imposed, but when you cross the border, they make sure you are very aware that it is expected of you to do it," he said.

“My sister has a rental property in town, and no one’s currently in it,” he said.

Beukeboom said he has been trying to keep his brain preoccupied with a range of hobbies and activities, including working out.

“It’s as good a time as any to pass the time that way!”

But he’s also been playing a little bit of guitar and exploring other artistic pursuits like airbrushing a goalie helmet. Although he already had an airbrush handy, his dad, Mike Beukeboom, delivered the paints he needed.

“He’s been my errand boy,” he said, with laugh.

“I have a few things to do, but at times (self-imposed isolation) drives you a little crazy regardless.”

And unfortunately, he said the premise is not connected to the internet and does not have Wi-Fi.

“It’s tough. But it’s probably good for me to take a break from it,” he said.

“We’ll see if I say they same thing in a week from now!”

Once his 14-day self-imposed isolation is up, Beukeboom said he plans to continue practising social distancing until the pandemic passes.

“Obviously the main goal behind all of this is to keep safe the people around us that are more at risk. That includes my grandpa of course,” he said, referring to Anton Walker, who lives in town and also serves as the Sundre Municipal Library board’s chair.

“This eventually will blow over,” he said.

“Until then, it’s best for us to take every precaution we’re able to. There’s a reason the whole world is shutting down for a little while.”

Walker, 83, said his children and grandchildren have been urging him to stay at home.

“It’s a world we couldn’t have imagined a few weeks ago,” said Walker, when asked his thoughts on the crisis.

“I’m just being very careful,” he said, adding he had not left his home much in recent days, with few exceptions including walks to the river.

“My kids and grandkids are telling me, ‘Grandpa don’t go out!’”

Fortunately, Walker said he has enough food in the fridge, and that his son-in-law, Mike Beukeboom, has been able to lend a helping hand when needed, such as bringing in a bag of salt for the water softener.

Although mostly cooped up at home, Walker did not seem too concerned about developing a case of cabin fever and said he has plenty on his plate to keep him busy, including arranging plans for the library board to virtually conduct meetings.

“I’m doing well. I’ve always got a lot of projects that I carry out. I never have a lack of things to do,” he said, adding that he certainly has not been going stir crazy in the absence of having anything to do.   

“That’s never a problem for me!”