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Costs of competing in provincial hockey championships are staggering, but worth it
Unlike at the professional level, winning championships in minor hockey costs money – and a lot of it.
That’s why fundraising efforts have been in full swing for players – as well as parents, coaches, managers and training staff – with the South Okanagan Minor Hockey Association (SOMHA) Junior Coyotes Peewees and Midget Rep hockey teams.
Both teams won their league recently and are preparing to compete in provincial championships.
The Junior Coyotes will be travelling to Dawson Creek for the Provincial Tier III Peewee Hockey Championships, while the Midget Rep team will be travelling to Terrace for the Provincial Tier III Midget Hockey Championships.
Both teams – as well as a large contingent of parents – leave this coming Friday, March 17, with both teams playing their first games on Sunday, March 19.
A quick search of Google Maps indicates the drive from Osoyoos to Terrace is 1,330 kilometres and 1,160 kilometres to Dawson Creek.
Because of the long distances involved, both teams plan on staying overnight halfway through their journey before arriving in their respective towns for provincials.
Jenn Seminoff, the manager of the Midget Rep team, said paying for a trip to provincial doesn’t come cheap, but all of the fundraising efforts and financial commitment from the parents is well worth it.
“For many of the players, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “We have four or five boys on this team who have been lucky enough for this to be their third provincial tournament, but it’s a first-time experience for most of the boys and it’s something they will never forget.”
A total of 17 players are expected to make the trip to Terrace and between 20 and 25 parents, she said.
All fundraising efforts go towards the costs of paying for players as well as coaching staff and managers.
All parents and family members travelling to provincials must pick up the full costs of travel, accommodation and food.
“It looks like we’re going to have at least one parent for each boy and we have a couple where they have boys on the peewee and midget teams, so one is going to travel to Terrace and the other to Dawson Creek,” she said.
Midget Rep head coach Steve Harrison and his assistant coaches Mike Harrison, and Terry Dawson, as well as trainers Balkar Hans and Dale Gordon will also be making the trip.
The SOMHA provides funding to all of its teams that qualify for provincial championships, but it’s not nearly enough to cover the costs, so players, coaches and managers are expected to generate significant funding, said Seminoff.
On Saturday, the Owl Pub in Osoyoos is holding a fundraising buffet with proceeds being split amongst the two teams, she said.
A fundraising pancake breakfast will also take place at the new Town of Osoyoos fire hall starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday and everyone who attends will be fed a large pancake breakfast in return for a donation, said Seminoff, whose husband John is the head coach of the Junior Coyotes’ peewee club.
Players have been holding bottle drives for more than two weeks in the various communities where players come from, including Osoyoos, Oliver, Princeton, Grand Forks, Keremeos and Cawston, she said.
Councils in both Osoyoos and Oliver both voted to give both teams $500 for provincials as well, she said.
Several parents and their sons have decided to pay for flights instead of making the long drive to Terrace, but the majority will be making the long drive over two days, she said.
Once the final bill is tallied, the reality is the parents of the players will have to split the difference between the money raised and the final bill for travel, food and accommodations, she said.
“At the end of the day, the parents will have to chip in no matter how much we raise,” she said. “They know that going into the season and everyone agrees it’s a small price to pay for having their boys have the experience of competing in a provincial championship.”
Deb Sidwell, manager of the Junior Coyotes Peewees, said 14 players will be competing in Dawson Creek and will be joined by the coaching and training staff and between 20 an 25 parents.
Sidwell agrees competing in provincials is expensive, but you can’t put a price on the experience.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing that most of these young boys might never experience again,” she said. “They’re such a great bunch of young boys and hockey players and they’re very proud to be competing at a provincial championship.
“It’s take a lot of time and money to get there, but everyone involved knows it’s going to be worth it.”
If the team qualifies for the finals, it means six nights of accommodation and food must be paid for, she said.
Players from the Junior Coyotes have spent several weekends bagging groceries at grocery stores in Osoyoos and Oliver and will be back at it accepting donations this weekend, she said.
It will cost more than $20,000 for the players alone to compete in Dawson Creek, she said.
“It’s a lot of money to try and raise, but the boys have been working hard and the community support in all of the towns where the boys come from has been fantastic,” she said.
The parents will each have to chip in a few hundred dollars on top of their own expenses, but that’s all part of the price of success in minor hockey, she said.