It’s summer now, but as they say in the series Game of Thrones, winter is coming. With that, people from across the Windermere Valley are getting ready to sign up for another season of Rockies minor hockey.
Early bird registration officially opened on July 15th, allowing interested registrants to save $50 on registration costs if they sign up before Monday, August 15th.
At that point, participants will have to pay the full price of registration until the August 31st deadline with the season to begin shortly after.
Last year, the Windermere Valley Minor Hockey Association had 175 registrants from the Initiation level to Midget levels of hockey. Brendan Donahue, president of the Association, said that over the last couple of years, registration numbers have increased. One of the reasons he attributes this to is theBauer First Shift program they ran last year.
“That was quite successful. The idea is that you run that program and a lot of those kids say, ‘Geez, I really like hockey and I want to enter right into minor hockey’,” he said. “We had probably 20 to 25 kids stay on with hockey for the remainder of the year.”
The Bauer First Shift program is designed to break down barriers a family may face when thinking of participating in hockey for the first time. Hockey Canada, in partnership with Bauer Hockey, is committed to adding one million new families to the sport of hockey over the next decade through the program.
The program is open to boys and girls aged six to 10 who are not currently enrolled in hockey for the low price of $199. This price equips newcomers with equipment from head to toe along with a welcome event educating parents on the sport along with six weeks of once-a-week sessions teaching the fundamentals of the sport.
The program was created in response to declines in registration rates throughout the country in 2012 in hopes of reversing a negative trend. Prior to the creation of the program, they conducted a survey of 875 Canadians across two provinces (Ontario and Nova Scotia), targeting parents of children aged four to 16 who have chosen not to play hockey. What they found was that while 73 per cent of parents considered enrolling their kids in hockey, barriers such as expenses, time commitment, danger and the seriousness of the sport kept them from doing so.
While hockey can be an expensive sport in comparison to sports with much less equipment like baseball and soccer, Donahue said that hockey is comparable to other winter sports like skiing. Breaking down the costs, he estimated that the cost of registering a player at the Initiation level would work out to be less than $5 per practice.
“If you’re going to get your kid into skiing, there’s a lot of equipment costs and lift ticket costs and if they’re going to be on a ski team, there are paid coaches,” he said, noting that the benefit to the minor hockey association is that everyone involved with the organization is a volunteer.
He said they are always looking for new coaches who want to help out with kids whether they are parents or just interested and knowledgeable spectators of the sport.
Those interested in registering for hockey this season or helping out coach are invited to check out the Association’s website at www.windermerevalleyminorhockey.com.