Home, it’s often been said, is where the heart is.
And with each passing year, Nick Foligno
’s connection with Ottawa and the only National Hockey League team he has ever known grows ever stronger. It is simply the right place to be, he’ll tell you, both for him and his wife Janelle, who have eagerly immersed themselves into daily life in the nation’s capital.
“My wife and I have been here for five years now and I’ve definitely embraced the people,” said Foligno, 24, the Senators’ first-round pick (28th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. “It’s just a quality community. People care about other people and you want to be involved in that.
|Nick Foligno and his wife, Janelle, like the idea of getting involved in charitable causes in the community (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club). |
"It’s nice to get involved. It gets your face out there and people realize you’re not just a hockey player. You’re a person. My wife and I both really enjoy getting involved in the community.”
For both Nick and Janelle, that includes lending their names to a number of charitable causes in the Ottawa region. It’s something the two natives of Sudbury, Ont., who got married in July, don’t hesitate to do.
“We’re getting involved in charities we’re big believers in and want to help push through and it’s made a big difference,” he said.
The Folignos are the celebrity chairs for the Ottawa Senators 65 Roses Sports Club’s annual gala, set for Feb. 23, which raises funds for cystic fibrosis research. They’re also “doing a lot of stuff with cancer,” the disease that killed Foligno’s mother, Janis, two summers ago.
Foligno also recently lent his name to the Sens Big Save, a campaign to help Canadian Blood Services increase blood donations during its holiday time of special need.
In addition, Janelle has taken time away from her teaching career to join the cause of F.A.B. Women, an Ottawa-based group that provides support for females who are battling eating disorders. A primary school French immersion teacher for the last three years, Janelle is now supply teaching so she can devote more energy to a charity that Nick says “is close to Janelle’s heart.” She is the group’s educational manager.
"It’s just a quality community. People care about other people and you want to be involved in that. It’s nice to get involved. It gets your face out there and people realize you’re not just a hockey player. You’re a person. My wife and I both really enjoy getting involved in the community." - Nick Foligno
Of course, the Folignos wouldn’t be in Ottawa without hockey, and he makes it clear the passion for the puck game in the capital is something else that makes living here so attractive.
“It’s a place where the fans really care about hockey and you want to be in an environment that cares about hockey,” said Foligno. “It’s my first (NHL) team and I have an emotional attachment to it as well. We both enjoy it here.”
Foligno was born in Buffalo, when his father, Mike, was a forward with the Sabres. But a pair of trades would lead to the family moving twice — to Toronto and Florida — before Mike’s NHL career was done.
“We understand the business of hockey and we know you can’t get too comfortable,” said Foligno of his current stability in Ottawa. “But we’re really happy here and we want to be here for a long time.”
Nick and Janelle first met in Sudbury, when he was playing with the Ontario Hockey League’s Wolves. Their families remain there and the Folignos plan to build a summer home in the city that will always be “home base” to them.
But Ottawa has gained a special place in their hearts, too.
“It’s such a good community of people in Ottawa,” said Foligno. “It reminds me a lot of Sudbury (that way) … You gain friendships after being here so long, whether it’s restaurant owners or just people that you get to meet over time. You get close to them and we’re really enjoying having some good friends here now.
“(Ottawa) has definitely has become our home and we hope to keep it that way for a long time.”