FORT WORTH, Texas – Ask Brad Fogal what’s important in life and he’s likely to bring up things like giving back, remembering where you came from, and especially – remembering people that have been part of your life, because they’ve helped you become the person that you are.
Prior to going pro, Fogal finished a standout four-year career at Adrian College as the NCAA Division III record holder for most career wins. He posted a 2.04 GAA, a .922 Save Percentage and 15 shutouts while going 93-11-2 in 106 games.
As a senior, the Sharon, Ontario native went 25-4-1 with a 2.23 GAA and a .923 Save Percentage in 30 games while helping Adrian to a fourth straight Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association title, a second consecutive NCAA Frozen Four appearance and a berth in the Division III national title game.
Fogal signed with the CHL’s Quad City Mallards last July and was planning to join the teams’ then head coach and general manager David Bell at the International Softball Congress Men’s Fastball World Tournament in Moline, Illinois beginning on August 14th. Fogal, who has been playing softball since he was five years old, was a member of Team Canada in the 2005 ISF World Championships, where he earned a bronze medal. He earned a gold medal in the 2005 Canada Games playing for Team Ontario.
But on August 11th, his younger sister, 23-year-old Ashley lost her life on the way to a Miranda Lambert concert with a friend when her car was hit head-on by a drunk driver in Rama, Ontario. The tragedy devastated Fogal, who comes from a tight-knit family and was especially close to Ashley, who was his number one fan and loved going to games to cheer on her big brother.
Though still in mourning, Fogal attended the Mallards’ training camp in October and went on to play 10 games with the team, earning a 6-2-0 record. He also played for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones (11 games) and Kalamazoo Wings (one game) prior to joining the Brahmas to finish his rookie season.
During the off-season, about a year after Ashley’s death, Fogal sat down with artist Steve Nash of Eye Candy Air – a company in Woodbridge, Ontario that specializes in custom airbrush painting and portraiture art for goalie masks and helmets. He explained that he wanted his new mask to honor his late sister.
Fogal says he talked about some basic things he wanted but gave Nash full artistic license over the mask. He provided five or six photos of Ashley and told him to include the ones he felt would fit best.
“We went over a few things – I had an idea what the back plate would look like and I always get “FOGZ” on the chin, but other than that, I had no clue how he was going to lay it out,” Fogal added. “We talked about the black and white and gray-tone theme, but other than that, it’s always a surprise when I get something from Nashie.”
Nash went to work on the design and before long, it was ready.
“I think we sat down and talked the one night and about two weeks later I got a call to come pick it up,” Fogal said. “When Steve puts his mind to something, it doesn’t really take him too long.”
“I saw it for the first time when I picked it up…I loved it,” Fogal said.
* The top of the mask reads “FREEBIRD” “It’s based on the Lynyrd Skynyrd song,” Fogal said. “There’s a tattoo my sister had on the back of her neck…the song just really hit home with her. I guess she’d say it was kind of her theme song. How she passed and the whole story behind her life…it just kind of summed it up perfectly.” The right side of the mask features two images of Ashley, along with a silhouette of her wearing a cowgirl hat. The left side of the mask features the image of a bird in flight. The chin of the mask is adorned with Fogal’s nickname, “FOGZ”. A close up of one of the images of Ashley Fogal. Another close-up of one of the images of Ashley Fogal. The back plate of the mask features a silhouette of Ashley in a sunset wearing a cowgirl hat, framed by a horseshoe. Her name, the year of her birth and that of her death finish out the image.
“It’s an emotional mask for me. I’m honored that Steve did such a great job with it as he always does with all of my masks. It’s a fitting tribute to her.”
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