Being a player on a junior hockey team can eat up a lot of your time. From road trips to home games to daily practices, the players spend a lot of time at the rink. Add in a part-time job or classes, and you can see players like to keep busy.
But not too busy that they can’t get out and about in their communities.
There are a lot of positives to representing your team positively in the community, and the Swan Valley Stampeders are one of the best.
“This sort of thing is important because running a junior team isn’t cheap,” said Stamps’ bench boss Erik Petersen. “The businesses and sponsors and fans help pay the bills, and the businesses who put in their sponsorship dollars, they might not have enough time to come and watch every game.
“But it’s important that they see the players out in the community, doing things, trying the make the community a better place, and showing that we’re thankful for the support that we get.”
Petersen spoke of the many activities the Stampeders have been involved with in the past few months, including the team showing up en masse for the Remembrance Day service.
“We asked the boys to attend the Remembrance Day service, and they came and were asked to join in the march to the Cenotaph,” said Petersen. “They also attended the ceremony in the War Veteran’s Hall.”
That’s one example, but Petersen had plenty more to list, including something kind of spooky.
“We’ve been involved in the ‘Communities That Care’, and they had an event in October that the players helped out with – it was a haunted house, and the players helped with the set up and in the house scaring the kids,” said Petersen.
In fact, many players from the Stampeders come to training camp early every year to help out with the team’s annual hockey school. Alumni are often a common sight at the late summer camp as well.
“Some guys even come back to help out for the rodeo, to help out and participate in the parade,” said Petersen.
As noted, the players don’t always have a lot of free time, but give them a chance to hang out at the rink a little more and many jump at the chance.
“We also have players who help out the minor hockey coaches,” said the Stampeders head coach and general manager. “They enjoy helping out the minor hockey system.
“The players also help out with the Breakfast Club (a before-school ice session for minor hockey players), and we have four players helping out with that on Thursdays at 7:30 a.m. That’s for atoms and novice players mostly.”
With Christmas coming up, Petersen said the players will be lending a hand with the hampers that are handed out across the Valley.
Some players help out even further. Carberry’s Daylon Creasy is taking part in “Chop the Top Off” for Cancer Awareness, and is in competition with two local politicians, where the loser has to get his head shaved at centre ice, said Petersen, adding the whole team took part in the wearing pink for cancer awareness as well.
They also took part in the annual Terry Fox run, another event that raises money to battle cancer.
The players also helped kick off the season with a barbecue at the local Co-op, and even helped bag groceries inside. “I’m always looking for new things (for the players to do) as well),” said Petersen. “For me, this is all about giving back to the community. For the cost of running this team, the players essentially have a $20,000 a year job, so I think it’s worth it to do these sorts of things to give back.”