Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Muskie tea a storied local tradition

The venue has changed. So have the fashions and hairstyles of both the organizers and the guests.
But what hasn’t changed about the Muskie boys’ hockey annual tea and bake sale is its mission: to bring the black-and-gold closer together with the local community.

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday (Feb. 15) from 2-4 p.m. at the Fort High cafeteria.
While attendance has dipped in recent years, Muskie defenceman Aaron McDowall said the tea remains an important date on the team’s calendar each season.
“It’s our chance to say thank you to the public for their support,” noted McDowall, one of five Grade 12 veterans on the team who will be part of the event for a final time this weekend.
“It also brings the team good publicity and lets the fans know we’re not just hockey players,” added Grade 11 forward David Pryde.
Former Muskie Todd Hamilton remembered the pride he had in serving members of the public at the tea.
“It was great to see how much you were appreciated,” noted Hamilton, whose son, Jack, is another one of those currently in their last season with the squad before graduating this June.
“When we were doing it, it was held at one of the downtown churches, which probably made it a little easier for more people to attend,” he added.
“On the other hand, the parking at the high school is much better than it was downtown in those days.”
Hamilton was teammates back then with current Muskie girls’ hockey head coach Scott Clendenning.
“I think Scott knows how important it was to bring the public and the team together, and that’s why he still does it with the girls’ team today,” said Hamilton, referring to Clendenning carrying on the roughly decade-old tradition with the girls’ squad which stemmed from the success of the boys’ event.
This will be first-year Muskie boys’ head coach Jamie Davis’ initial appearance at the tea as bench boss.
“It’s a good way to have the team interact with the public,” he agreed.
John Pierce, father of former Muskie player David Pierce, recalled the first time he attended the event with his family.
“Dave must have been two and his sister, Melanie, was three,” he reminisced.
“I remember [Muskie assistant coach Ken Christiansen] poking fun at Dave for wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs’ jersey.
“There was a great atmosphere at the teas with the house full and people of all ages coming,” Pierce added.
“Lois Maher [wife of former head coach Barney Maher] would have memorabilia from past years and the boys would be all dressed in their finery with their hair combed.
“The segue for me is Dave became a Muskie for three years, and he enjoyed the opportunity to meet and serve the people and interact with members of the old guard,” said Pierce.
“The tea has a considerable history,” he continued. “A lot of credit has to go to the Mahers and people like Mickey Christiansen and Barb Ogden.
“It was very important to them.”

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