Some of the newest members of minor hockey associations in 100 Mile House and Williams Lake played some of their first organized hockey games during Initiation Fun Day at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre on Jan. 24.
The event, which coincided with BC Minor Hockey Week, Jan. 18-25, was meant to emphasize the fun and joy of playing the game – a thought that’s sometimes lost as players get older and move up through the minor hockey ranks.
Denise Balbirnie, with the 100 Mile House and District Minor Hockey Association, helped organize the games.
“I personally have four kids in hockey,” she explains. “Every year when we are organizing Fun Day, I am always struck with the same thoughts. As much as I enjoy watching the action on the ice, and seeing how much fun the kids are having, I am even more amazed at what I witness in the stands. During Fun Day, there is a lot of laughter, permanent smiles, cameras and video recorders. Parents chat and cheer each other’s kids on, and at the end of the day, pack up their tired little players to head for home.”
Balbirnie mentions the recent story of an amateur hockey league on Vancouver Island having to threaten to ban spectators from the arena if parents didn’t stop verbally abusing referees and players during games.
She says she was saddened to read about the situation there, but she wasn’t surprised.
“The majority of parents are still enjoying the game, cheering on the kids, and heading home for their different activities after the game. But there are always those few that, through their comments or body language, make it apparent that they expect more from the players, the volunteer coaches, the refs, the association as a whole, and are not able to take the game for what it is supposed to be – which is fun.
“Hockey is supposed to be about developing a player’s skills to the best of their potential,” Balbirnie continues. “It is about learning to play, win and lose together as a team. It is about learning to respect the rules of the game, teammates, coaches, refs and opponents. It is about building up a player’s confidence, while reminding them to be humble.”
She adds that hopefully events like the Initiation Fun Day help parents and players remember the roots of the game.