University of Regina alum Rick Uhrich helps support the new generation
Author: Kristian Ferguson – Sports Writer
Recently, the University of Regina gained an award, the Rick Uhrich Memorial Award, which is being awarded to help someone on the men’s or women’s hockey team pursue an education at the U of R. What I initially thought was going to be helping spread the word about a great award for someone playing on the Cougars turned into so much more. I had a great opportunity to be able to correspond with Brad Uhrich and Jill Wellman, Rick’s brother and wife respectively, about Rick and the award in his memory. What I came to find is that Rick was a great guy and a marvelous athlete who is deeply entrenched in Regina sports history, not only with the Cougars, but with the Regina Pats as well.
“My brother was a pretty special guy to a lot of people. He was very bright and talented,” says Brad Uhrich. “He treated people right, everyone.”
At 16, Rick was already on the Regina Pats hockey team. Due to a wrist injury, Rick had a fairly slow start to his very first season with the Pats, only playing 40 games in 1970-71. The Pats kept Rick on the team while he graduated high school and well into his university career as well. The Pats paid for his tuition from 1972-1974. Brad recollected that the Pats were growing and headed towards victory.
“I remember my dad coming home from watching a blue and white game at the Kinsmen Area during the 1971 training camp and stating that the Pats were going to go all the way. Not that year but maybe the next.”
One of Rick’s larger sports accomplishments was being a part of the 1974 Pats team, the team that won the Memorial Cup of the same year. The Pats did go all the way, beating out the St. Catherines Black Hawks 4-0 and taking the win against the Quebec Remparts 7-4. During Rick’s time at the U of R, he also received a scholarship from Hockey Canada from 1976-78.
Rick was deeply involved within the sports scene at the U of R while he pursued a business administration degree. Rick was involved with the implementation of the Cougars hockey program, working with Reg Higgs to get it up and running.
“Rick was integral to the start of the university hockey program at the University of Regina,” states Brad. “The success of those years are represented by the banners on the wall at the Coop Centre where the Cougars currently play.”
Rick eventually graduated from the University in 1978 and went on to work in the computer field. His interest in this field helped him found his IT security company, ISA, in 1992, which still remains as one of, if not the, largest IT security company in Canada.
Having passed away in 2014, Rick’s wife, Jill Wellman, and a good friend of Rick’s, Rhys Renouf, got together and founded the Rick Uhrich Memorial Award. The first recipient was Mitchell Kilgore in 2015, but there are plans to keep the award going into perpetuity. Besides all of Rick’s accomplishments as a sportsman, it was made very clear to me by both Brad and Jill that Rick was a real people person and an absolute pleasure to be around.
“As a brother, even though he was eight years older than me, he was one of my best friends and we got along extremely well,” says Brad.
I was provided a wealth of information including obituaries, articles, statistics, even family photos, and amongst all of them was reference to Rick’s impact he had on the people he loved and cared for.
“An athlete, a self-taught musician, a golfer, and a successful business man. . . He was successful in sports and business but it did not go to his head,” says Rick’s brother. “Rick’s remarkable talent with people, I believe, took hold in those stinky, cold hockey dressing rooms and never left him,” said Jill Wellman via email.
Even though Rick is gone, his mark on the University, and Regina, stays. Whether it is on the banners at the Co-Operators centre, in the record books for his 1974 Memorial Cup win, the yearbooks with his 1978 graduation, or with his still-standing company and hockey award, Rick Uhrich proved to be a very important person not only to his family, but also to the history of Regina sport. While I personally may not have known him, his footprint still remains and thanks to his wonderfully open and welcoming family in Brad Uhrich and Jill Wellman, I feel I have been able to know who he was, at least a little. Next time I’m at the bar, I’ll crack open a Sleeman’s Cream Ale in Rick’s honour.
Rick’s family would like to ask that if you are interested in donating to the Rick Uhrich Memorial Award to visit the University of Regina’s website and show your support. You could make the difference for a young athlete to play the sport they love, and get an education as well.