Lo­cal hockey pro­gram in jeop­ardy

Stanstead Journal - - SPORTS - Vic­to­ria Vanier Stanstead

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-

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