March 22, 2024

Hurlbert, McFeeters appreciate time together in Regina after three years of logistical “chaos”

Jacqueline Hurlbert and Evan McFeeters have noticed a REAL difference in their married life over the past few months.

Their workplaces, once separated by thousands of kilometres and further complicated by a global pandemic, are now located on REAL District’s most prominent sporting venues — Mosaic Stadium and the Brandt Centre.

“We went from being three years apart, two or three provinces away, to basically sharing the same parking lot every day,” McFeeters marvels. “It’s quite a contrast.”

McFeeters is completing his first season as an Assistant Coach with the Regina Pats.

He was hired by the Western Hockey League team on July 26, 2023 — the couple’s first wedding anniversary.

“To be able to celebrate that together was pretty special,” says Hurlbert, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Director of Marketing and Fan Engagement.

Their paths first crossed in Hurlbert’s hometown of Cochrane, Alta.

In the fall of 2012, she had just been hired by the Cochrane Generals, thereby becoming the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s first female General Manager.

McFeeters, who played for the Generals for four seasons, was the Head Coach of the club’s under-18 affiliate — the Bow Valley Timberwolves — when he was introduced to Hurlbert.

“That’s how it kind of started, where we got to know each other just on a professional level,” Hurlbert says.

After two seasons with the Timberwolves, McFeeters was hired by the Generals. He was the junior B team’s Head Coach for three seasons, concluding with a hectic 2015-16 campaign.

In addition to coaching the Generals, he was an assistant with his hometown team, the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Canmore Eagles.

McFeeters then became a full-time member of the Eagles, as the Assistant Coach, in 2016. Shortly thereafter, Hurlbert was hired by the Canmore hockey team.

“We just had our National Girls and Women in Sports Day and one of the stories I shared there was that Evan was the reason that doors opened for me in junior hockey,” she says.

“It was very exciting not only on a personal level that I got to be on the same team as Evan, but also on a professional level because it was a huge opportunity for me.

“In sports and in life in general, you have those connections and you know people. You put people forward who you think are good for roles.

“I had an opportunity to look at a marketing and community role. For me, it seemed like a natural transition, because one of the things that I had really honed in on with the Generals was that community aspect and being involved in the community and how we market them differently.”

With the Eagles, Hurlbert served as the Director of Sales and Marketing (2016 to 2018) and Director of Business Operations and Community Relations (2018 to 2020).

“Then COVID hit,” McFeeters says. “That’s where our paths went from being together for essentially seven years to breaking off.”

A period of “life in chaos,” as McFeeters described it, began when he was hired by the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits as the Assistant Coach and Assistant GM.

“I accepted that job about a week before training camp opened,” McFeeters says. “I went there without a place to live — with the clothes on my back, basically, and my hockey stuff.”

Hurlbert then moved in with McFeeters’ grandmother in Canmore for a few weeks before embarking for Vancouver Island and becoming the Director of Ticket Sales and Marketing with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Nanaimo Clippers.

She appreciated the opportunity, even though the logistics pertaining to her relationship had suddenly become infinitely more complex.

“It was especially challenging through COVID because we went through playing in ‘bubbles’ with no fans and limited interactions with those outside our cohorts,” Hurlbert says.

“Evan literally couldn’t leave his team and I couldn’t go to visit him. I think we went eight or nine months without seeing each other.”

Hurlbert worked for the Clippers for eight months before joining the Roughriders in June of 2021.

“I was only in Nanaimo for a short stint, but this opportunity with the Riders and coming to Saskatchewan just felt like it was something I couldn’t pass up on applying for,” she says.

“It was an opportunity to move closer to family who live in Saskatchewan and also to work for a sports organization that is so community-focused with such a passionate fan base.”

McFeeters soon moved to Regina for the remainder of his off-season before returning to Brooks and helping the Bandits win the 2022 Centennial Cup when the tournament was held in Estevan.

“We won the national championship on May 29,” he recalls. “I received a phone call on May 30 for a position in Sherwood Park. After chatting with Jacqui for two or three days, I accepted that position. We got married a month later.

“About three weeks after our wedding day, I packed my bags and packed half of our apartment and went to Sherwood Park.”

He spent the 2022-23 season as Head Coach and Assistant GM with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders before moving back to the couple’s Regina residence.

Not long after that, a position became available on the Pats’ coaching staff.

“I’ve always aspired to work in the Western Hockey League,” McFeeters says. “The fact that Regina had an opening was fantastic but, at the same time, I was still under contract in Sherwood Park.

“It was late in the off-season that the opening came to be in Regina, so I was still in the middle of planning for the upcoming season in Sherwood Park. I was actually looking for a new apartment while planning for my season when I got my first contact from the Pats.

“The conversation quickly went from phone calls and Zoom calls to in-person, because they realized that I had actually called Regina home for the off-season for the past three years. That maybe expedited the process in terms of getting to know me a little bit better face-to-face and things came together fairly quickly.”

And now, with a long-distance relationship in the rear-view mirror, Hurlbert and McFeeters are separated by Confederation Park during a typical working day.

“We’re super-happy and enjoying living in Regina and working for the two premier sports organizations in the community,” McFeeters says.
“It has always been a goal of ours to do it and we’re going to take advantage of it while the opportunity exists.”