After diabetes took his right leg below the knee in 2000, Komets legend Reggie Primeau built an inspirational story by skating again in 2005. Though he died in 2014 at age 77, Primeau is still motivating others, even if they are a bunch of JERKS.
With former teammates or family members, Primeau loved to golf, and in the summer of 2007 his grandson and fellow former Komet Ryan Potts and his buddies Craig Berry and James Redmond took him to Colonial Oaks. As usual, Primeau hit his drives straight down the middle, and then he'd stare around like he had no idea where the ball went.
Realizing their first names added up to JRRC, Redmond, Berry and Potts joined with Randy Potts, Dino Redmond, Richie Primeau, Rick Wynn, Brian McKinley, Kim Wynn and Dave Bassett to form the Tuesday night JERK League. There were 12 original members, which was appropriate because that was Primeau's Komets jersey number.
That has led to a ton of jokes and odd looks when the players call each other jerks away from Colonial Oaks or when one of their children says in the grocery store, “I can't wait until I grow up so I can be a jerk someday like my dad.” Yes, it's a proud moment.
“We wanted to make sure that he got out and we enjoyed spending time with him and being around him,” Berry said. “It was the one place we could all get together, we could all enjoy ourselves and let loose.”
The sad thing is, Primeau would still be the best golfer in the league where laughs are more important than scores. The league logo is a silhouette of Berry holding up a large divot.
Somehow Primeau won the first league title, but how is still a mystery. Actually, the whole concept of the league championship is a mystery because only league commissioner Redmond keeps track of the scoring and even he can't explain it. Scores or skill don't seem to matter. A player who played nine holes in over 50 shots may find himself at the top of the standings the next week, depending on James Redmond's “algorithm.”
“Basically, to win the league, you get your name drawn out of a hat,” Redmond said.
But how often a player's name goes in the hat is determined by whatever Redmond says, and everyone else just trusts him. As an example, one player got extra points for playing despite having to postpone his wife's birthday party. Players' scores can increase each week, but their averages somehow keep going lower.
“James jokes that it all counts because of his algorithms that nobody understands, but we get a sheet each week with our averages,” Ryan Potts said. “The crazy thing is nobody knows how to get it, but we all want that trophy at the end of the year.”
The trophy has been beat up often over the years, even ending up in a pool once. It was rediscovered recently after spending three years in a previous winner's basement.
There are also plenty of jokes, usually at Berry's expense because he's a University of Kentucky fan. He once was required to wear an IU jersey and sing the IU fight song in front of everyone before they teed off. Another time he had to wear an Indiana shirt all day, including to work. The misery on his face was obvious.
“They all team up on me,” Berry said. “The one I can never win is any kind of weight loss competition because I love food.”
He once lost a competition because he lost 1 pound over three months while his opponent lost 3.
The thing the 16 members are most proud of is their annual August fundraiser outing for Turnstone that has raised more than $75,000 over the last five years.
Each year quickly fills with 36 teams.
The JERKS chose Turnstone in memory of Redmond's sister, Emily, who lived with spina bifida before dying in 1991. She was a regular Turnstone client.
“I just love what they do and I love being part of helping them raise their money each year,” James Redmond said. “They have something for everybody.”
As Ryan Potts said, “We love that place and everything about it. It's so positive and everyone we deal with over there is great. They are changing lives.”
They also know it's the kind of effort Primeau would support.
“It's funny, they called him 'Hawkeye,' and every once in a while we'll see a hawk out there,” Potts said. “Literally, there was a hawk just sitting there last Tuesday hanging out where everybody was sitting. Whether you believe in stuff like that, it just makes you feel good to know that he's still out there with us.”