Sports

Rec debacle continues to unravel

It was with class, dedication, discipline, teamwork, and skill that the Beaver Valley Nitehawks pulled off the trifecta of Junior B hockey, winning the KIJHL title, the Cyclone Taylor Cup provincial title, and the Keystone Cup Western Canadian championship over the course of three sunny weeks in April.

The Hawks team, comprised of diverse players from Rossland, Trail, Montrose, and Fruitvale, as well as Kelowna, Medicine Hat, Boston, and the unlikely sources of Taber and Grande Prairie, Alberta, came together and continued to improve over the year, until, to a man, they had no doubt they were going to win every game they played going down the stretch. They almost did, posting a 26-5 record including going undefeated in their final 13 games to finish the KIJHL playoffs, and run through the Cyclone and Keystone Cups.

It’s a testament to the quality of the Nitehawks veteran leadership, its role players, APs, and their coaching staff’s ability to communicate, teach, and, to a point, sell their game plan to the players, who followed it to a tee.

Greater Trail municipalities could learn something from the Nitehawks. Ironically, after a century of living in the same area, the five municipalities still can’t find common ground; their ability to confer and negotiate seems as foreign to them as the Stanley Cup is to Vancouver (or Toronto).

Following the withdrawal of Beaver Valley (Villages of Fruitvale and Montrose, and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Area A) and Warfield from the recreation agreement, the response from the City of Trail was to reinstate its Sports Pass initiative of 2009, piling on  prohibitive costs to all non-residents that use Trail sports and rec facilities.

I’m not suggesting pulling out of the rec agreement was a bad or good decision. Financial decisions are always difficult, but, stickhandling through such a sensitive issue takes finesse, planning, consultation, and tact, something the various councils lacked in the process.

For Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association Warfield players will be the losers. as B.V. and Rossland players are exempt from the extra charge due to shared facilities, however, Warfield players will now have to pay an extra $373 for the privilege of playing in the GTMHA.

The Trail Stingrays, one of the longest running clubs in Greater Trail, is in danger of disbanding due to the extra $339 heaped on young swimmers and their families.

The onus is also on all teams from various leagues to supply rosters with complete information on provenance and Sports Pass status. Rec leagues like Slopitch and beer-league hockey teams will be required to have purchased their Sports Passes before taking to the ice, field, pitch, or pool.

Most concerning of all, however, is that all baseball and soccer leagues, sports that use to be somewhat inexpensive, will now cost non-residents $204 extra per season irrespective of age, and it will cost a Warfield resident an extra $204 to walk across the street to practice with the Track and Field Club at Haley Park.

I’m not sure my Fruitvale beer-league team is going to shell out an extra $2,000 ($175 per player) to play eight to 10 games per season in Trail, when we could adjust our schedule to host the Trail teams in Beaver Valley. Likewise, there are plenty of ball fields in B.V. and Rossland that remain idle most of the summer because slow pitch leagues have long since collapsed. As for the Rossland-Trail Roller Girls roller derby team whose non-residents will have to shell out an extra $150 to practice at the Armories, well there’s also a big gym at RSS that gets little use these days.

For the time being, the respective Villages have agreed to reimburse residents who register for Sports Passes.  Montrose, for instance, has reimbursed about $11,000 over the past three months to those who bothered to submit a request. How long it will continue remains to be seen.

Historically, there has always been a competitive if not combative attitude between the various communities in sports and politics.  However, the previous rec agreement and recently amalgamated Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association seemed to herald a new era, where cooperation prevailed and a seeming recognition that teams composed of players from all communities can play together and, like the Nitehawks, win together.

If the communities cannot compromise and work together on the recreation agreement, it’s simple, players will not play in Trail, and softball, baseball, soccer, and hockey teams that currently use the City’s facilities may move to surrounding communities to accommodate their non-residents. Or worse, kids simply won’t play, and clubs like the Stingrays will disappear.

So get out and enjoy the Beaver Valley Nitehawks Day at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall this evening. Congratulate the players, coaches, staff, volunteers, and executive for their incredible work over their most successful and entertaining season in franchise history.

Let’s hope local politicians learn something from the Nitehawks success, and that it won’t be the last such celebration in Greater Trail.

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