Local man attending Sochi Winter Olympics

Published on January 31, 2014
Adam Caughey is thrilled to be attending the 2014 Winter Olympics.

By Lyle Carter

It's partly a family matter that is taking Stewiacke's Adam Caughey to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Adam's sister Denise Sondjo will officiate women's hockey as a linesman, and Adam is thrilled with the opportunity to attend the Games and support his sister.

"It's been a few months now since I began thinking about going," said Caughey, 32, who grew up in Truro. "I fly to Montreal next Friday morning and meet up with my brother-in-law, Jean-Michel Sondjo. We fly out the same night."

Caughey, a power line technician with Nova Scotia Power, hopes to watch each game his sister officiates.

"I really can't imagine what to expect during these Olympics," he said. "I feel fortunate to be going, absolutely. I was pretty wound when we received our Olympic passes. And it really sank in that I was going when I received my Olympic visa. It's going to be an adventure, that's for sure."

Caughey said he is proud for his sister and happy she is getting the opportunity to officiate at the highest.

"I remember a few years ago Denise saying she would one day officiate in the Olympics," he said. "Denise doesn't have, ‘I can't do it' in her vocabulary. She doesn't understand what that means. Now, here she is going to the Olympics and the thing is I'm going to get to share this experience with her."

Caughey, who has a love for hockey, plays centre for Car Star Collision in the Labatt West Colchester Commercial Hockey League and also suits up with Fox Hollow in gentlemen's hockey at the sportsplex in Brookfield.

An outstanding hockey player as a young girl, Denise played for the CEC Cougars boys team. After Denise moved to Quebec City, Adam recalled a visit his sister made home.

"I was playing with Sexton's in Debert and I got it approved by the team manager that Denise could play a game on the wing on my line," he said. "A player on the other team, it might have been Brian Roode, asked just before a face-off who the new player was? During the next face-off I told him. Brian said, ‘I thought I recognized the skating.' He was still pretty surprised though."

Another visit home and another story that speaks volumes of the bond between brother and sister saw Adam arrange for Denise to play in the Henderson tournament with his team - JA Wallace Construction.

"Players couldn't believe how good she was," Caughey said. "Denise is a smart hockey player and she more then held her own. We have always been real close. Growing up, Denise was always like my little brother. When I was going to play minor hockey she usually came along."

Only three of the 15 female officials heading to the Olympics for the International Ice Hockey Federation are Canadians.

Denise, 30, who works as a purchasing agent for Pronature in Quebec City, leaves for Sochi on Feb. 3.

"It's just amazing," she said. "I imagine when I arrive it will hit me, this kid from Truro, Nova Scotia, will be an official at the 2014 Russia Olympics."

Denise has officiated world championships in places such as Italy and North Korea, however, the Olympics are the highlight of her career.

"I love the fact my husband Jean-Michel and my brother Adam are going to be there. They'll have each other to bounce stories off of and to create adventure."

Denise began officiating hockey when she was 15 on the advice of her friends and fellow officials Nick Chestnut and Adam McLean.

She continued to hone her skills over the years and has developed into one the country's top female linesman.

"I'll never forget that John Sellers told the Truro Daily News, ‘maybe Denise will be in the Olympics some day.' I still have the article," she said.

Denise is quick to thank the people in her life who have helped her get to where she is today.

"I'll never forget the support I received from friends, the community back home and my family," she said. "My parents, Eric and Michel Caughey, have always been there for me. My brother Adam and my sister Allison have always been big supporters. The wonderful support that I have received from so many people, it has had a lot of impact on where I am today."

Lyle Carter's sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.