Kaicee Trott of Port Alberni has turned a love of her hometown Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ BCHL team into lifelong connections. (PHOTO COURTESY WES MICHALENKO)

Kaicee Trott of Port Alberni has turned a love of her hometown Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ BCHL team into lifelong connections. (PHOTO COURTESY WES MICHALENKO)

Superfan backing up the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Hockey friendships have shaped photographer and fan Kaicee Trott’s life

Kaicee Trott’s social media handles—AVBulldogsFan—show where her allegiance lies when it comes to junior hockey. What they don’t show is the dedication the Port Alberni woman has made to the city’s B.C. Hockey League team over the past decade, as well as her burgeoning photography career.

Trott first began taking photos at the Bulldogs’ games in 2008-09 after meeting defenceman Adam Hout in a media studies class at Alberni District Secondary School the previous year.

“Having someone I knew playing for the team really got me invested,” Trott wrote in an essay titled “The Powerful Friendships That Changed My Life.”

“My love for the game moved forward from investment to commitment.”

She still keeps in touch with Hout and has made several other friends through the Bulldogs. She met Chris Schutz in early January 2015 at a Pathways’ Bulldogs party. “He and I still talk every couple of months,” she said.

She met Brandon Halls in 2011, and he now works for the Vancouver Canucks as their corporate partnerships and community development coordinator as well as for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Former assistant coach Adam Hayduk urged Trott to do more with her hockey photography after meeting with her in 2010. “He saw my passion for the team and my photography,” said Trott, adding that one of her greatest accomplishments was when Hayduk submitted one of her photos of Kurt Gosselin to the BCHL’s Smart Hockey magazine.

Former head coach Matt Hughes connected with Trott in 2017-18, creating 30 episodes of coach’s updates for Trott’s YouTube channel. He and his Okanagan Hockey Academy female prep team have now welcomed Trott into their fold. She met them when they came to Vancouver Island to play a team from Shawnigan Lake.

“I enjoy taking pictures of the players,” says Trott, who is itching to get back to the rink as much as any of the players are. “I am a memory keepsaker, as I photograph them on game day and in the community. I have a huge archive (of photos). I keep hard copies of everything because you never know which players will come back later on in their lives and want pictures.”

The respect goes both ways.

READ: The powerful friendships that changed my life

Bulldogs’ alumnus Grayson Valente said Trott’s engagement with the team “has created a bond between the community, players, and the players’ families. Kaicee’s updates through photos and social media allow the families to follow the team’s developments from wherever they are.”

Trott said she often receives messages from players’ family members who appreciate the connection. “My No. 1 supporters have been the families and billets,” Trott wrote. “They purchase my photos from year to year, thank me for my hard work and dedication to the team, and for bridging the connection to their sons.”

Valente was with the Bulldogs for three seasons, from 2017-18 until he graduated to the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) in 2020-21. Valente still keeps in touch with Trott even though he is playing hockey in Austin, Minnesota now.

“Kaicee…was a huge part of my experience in Port Alberni,” Valente said. “She was very involved with the team through the videos and photos she’d produce.

“The photos I have now encapsulate so many of the great memories from my time in the community and I am now always able to look back on those thanks to the dedication she showed the team,” he said.

“As well, she was always behind us, no matter how well we were doing, always sending us encouraging messages.”

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions on hockey games has meant Trott needed to be creative in keeping her fans engaged. She was not part of the small crowd that was allowed to watch the few exhibition games that the Bulldogs managed to get in before they were shut down again.

In her spare time Trott takes landscape and portrait photos. This year she assembled a calendar of her favourite scenic shots, and put together a Bulldogs’ calendar for people who asked for one. For her 10th anniversary she would like to produce a calendar of her favourite hockey photos.

She also keeps track of Bulldogs’ alumni, following them and their university teams on social media then sharing any news she finds.

“I was keeping the fans buzzing when I did a pair of Instagram and Facebook Live interviews with Keaton Mastrodonato and Grayson Valente,” Trott said. “I wanted to provide something, as I normally would do (videos) at the rink. I wanted to bring a smile to people’s faces and update them on the players’ lives.

“As for my other stuff, I need to find my spark again because usually I like to photograph my friends, but because of COVID-19 I can’t…I just need to find new things to photograph.”

When the BCHL season eventually starts up again, Trott says she will be ready.

“I can’t wait!”

(EDITED: Matt Hughes coached a female prep team from Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton and came to play against a team from Shawnigan Lake.)

Alberni Valley BulldogsBCHL

 

Kaicee Trott and former Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ coach Matt Hughes, seen at a team function before Hughes’ departure, filmed 30 episodes of Coach’s Update, which have garnered hundreds of views on Trott’s YouTube channel dedicated to clips and interviews with players from the BC Hockey League team. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Kaicee Trott and former Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ coach Matt Hughes, seen at a team function before Hughes’ departure, filmed 30 episodes of Coach’s Update, which have garnered hundreds of views on Trott’s YouTube channel dedicated to clips and interviews with players from the BC Hockey League team. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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