Local hockey program in jeopardy
You’dthink that, with the addition of a brand new, state-of-the-art arena in town, local kids would be flocking to the arena to play ‘Canada’s game’. That certainly was the intention of the late Pat Burns when he gave his permission to the town and to Stanstead College to use his name for the building.
Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be happening. In the last two years, the membership of Border Minor Hockey Association has decreased from 140 to 91 players. “The kids aren’t playing somewhere else; they’ve stopped playing because of the costs. There are families where the kids will take turns playing hockey because they can’t afford to register more than one kid per season,” explained the president of Border Minor Hockey, Dave Dubois. “Our program is slowly dissolving because of the costs.”
“Maybe there’s a Wayne Gretzky or a Mario Lemieux or a Sidney Crosby sitting here. A young player could come from Stanstead who plays in an arena named after me!” said Pat Burns at the announcement of the government funding for the arena back in 2010. That scenario is becoming less and less likely.
Presently, the town subsidizes the players, giving each player back a portion of the hefty membership fee that runs between $250 and $465, depending on the age of the player. First time members regardless of age, pay only a $250 membership fee in their first year. “We’d like to have a better set-up with the town because some people are getting this money who don’t need it while other kids still can’t afford to play, even with the subsidy,” said Mr. Dubois. Making membership much more affordable would get more kids into the arena to play and help defray some of the expenses of the Association. “Whether there are eight kids on the team or fourteen, we still have to pay $130 an hour for the ice time.”
Mr. Dubois also believes that other municipalities should help support the Border Minor Hockey Association, given that many of the children playing are from out of town. “The towns of Ayer’s Cliff, Ogden, North Hatley, Stanstead Township and the others have never contributed to this program; I don’t understand that,” said Mr. Dubois. He also mentioned how, now that the teams play in a heated arena, many seniors like to go out and watch the kids play. “It should be a community project to keep the border Minor Hockey Association going,” he concluded.
When we went to print, Mr. Dubois was just about to have a meeting with mayor Philippe Dutil to discuss the children’s hockey program in depth.
TheLennoxville Curling Club is hoping to attract new members to their Wheelchair Curling Program which begins in a few weeks. “We now have six members in our Wheelchair Curling. It is our most interesting program,” commented Al Whittier. Mr. Whittier coaches members in the program along with Johanne Poulin, of Coaticook, who was on the Lennoxville Curling Club’s first wheelchair curling team. Both coaches are bilingual.
Wheelchair curling is a great way to exercise and, although practiced in only a handful of clubs in Quebec, is quite popular in other provinces. “Our wheelchair program is really quite an offer. We have good coaches, accessibility to the ice and great camaraderie,” said Mr. Whittier who was named “Club Coach of the Year” by Curling Quebec in 2010.
You don’t need any curling experience to join this program. Those interested can even try it out for free during the first two practices to see if they like it. Once the program gets going in mid-October, the practices will be held every Sunday, from 10:00 am to 2:00 or 3:00 pm with a break for lunch, giving the participants ample time to hone their skills and enjoy a few ends. The club’s wheelchair team also takes part in the occa-