Hope for change

I can’t change the world. Most times, I can barely make change.
But after what I witnessed at last weekend’s Fort Frances I.P. 2 hockey tournament, involving participants aged seven and eight, I find myself with a decision to make.
I can bury my head in the sand and pretend some of the outrageous behaviour on the part of players, coaches, and fans that I witnessed is simply “part of the game” and will never go away.
Or I can stand up and speak about how insane it is that there is a segment of participants in all three of the above groups who still don’t understand that, at the end of the day, minor hockey is what the Canadian Hockey Association claims it to be in its latest advertising campaign: just a game.
The offenders must have overlooked the “relax” portion of those public service announcements.
To be fair, most of the players I watched respected the rules of the game, most of the coaches kept their heads about them on the bench, and most of the parents in the stands were polite in their support of their respective teams.
To all of you, I salute your efforts to remember it’s the game—not the outcome of the game—that really counts.
But though they were rare, examples of unnecessary behaviour did stand out and leave a sour taste in my mouth like a month-old lemon.
Did I mention the age range of this tournament? Seven and eight. Heck, it took me until I was nine to learn how to ride my bicycle. That was pressure enough.
This is not for the Stanley Cup, Olympic gold, nor the world junior championship, people. There is no need for slamming sticks down in player boxes, berating officials, and other over-the-top behaviour.
Minor hockey is about maintaining the proper perspective. When that perspective is lost, so is the essence of the game.
• • •
The Battle of the Badges hockey game last Tuesday (Feb. 25) at the Ice for Kids Arena did its part to help put the cuffs on crime.
Organizer Murray Alexander said the event, which included former NHL’ers Dave “Tiger” Williams and Morris Lukowich, raised about $2,200 for the Fort Frances branch of Northwestern Ontario Crime Stoppers—matching last year’s total.
Alexander said the feedback he received after the game from those involved in bringing the event here indicated that, in all likelihood, it will return again next year—with one notable difference.
“Tiger said if he’s coming back next year, we wants to play this time instead of being the referee,” chuckled Alexander.
• • •
Organizers of the United Native Friendship Centre’s charity exhibition hockey game held Feb. 21 at the ’52 Canadians Arena, featuring former NHL player and head coach Ted Nolan, claimed the event was a rousing success.
UNFC reps Mike Anderson and Steve Parks reported a total of $520 and seven boxes of food was collected through donations made at the game which served as the spectators’ admission fee.
The pair were appreciative of the volunteer effort received for not only setting up the game, but also during the following night’s banquet at La Place Rendez-Vous, where Nolan addressed a gathering of aboriginal youth about continuing to follow their dreams.
Plans already are in the works to hold the event again next year.
• • •
Fort High’s “Hoops for Heart” campaign, held Feb. 17-19, drew about half the support it did last year, but the students who took part did so with a wholehearted effort.
About 30 participants raised $1,546 through community pledges which committed a certain amount for every free throw the students sank during the lunch hour at the school over those three days.
Event organizer Shane Bliss, a teacher at Fort High and head coach of the Muskie boys’ hockey team, said close to 60 students were involved in the shootout last year.
• • •
The Emo Cowboys continued their strong season by reaching the ‘A’ final at the Kenora/Lake of the Woods Minor Hockey Association’s Midget tournament last weekend.
The gunslingers blanked the Kenora Sharks 4-0 and then stopped the Northeast Flames (Thunder Bay) 3-1 before nipping the Dryden Canadians 4-3 in a shootout to finish the preliminary round with a perfect 3-0 record.
But in the final, which came down to another shootout, the Cowboys’ pistols were holstered as the Pinawa (Man.) Panthers pulled out a 3-2 victory to take the title.
The team next travels to Atikokan for a tournament March 21-23.
• • •
The Fort Frances Wado Kai Karate Club needed a U-Haul trailer to carry back their hardware collection from the Manitoba provincial championship Feb. 22.
The local martial artists piled up 19 medals (eight gold, five silver, and six bronze) at the competition in the Kata (forms) and Kumite (fighting) categories in 11 divisions ranging from white/yellow belt child to senior black belt adult.
But club sensei Chris Bazinet said the most rewarding part of the meet was being reunited with old friends while making new ones.
That same weekend, sensei Claude Boucher led a two-member contingent from the Devlin Wado Kai Karate Club to White River for a regional tournament, with the team coming home with one gold and three silver medals.
• • •
The third-annual “Curl for Cancer” bonspiel will be held Saturday, March 15 at the local curling club, with all proceeds going towards the local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society.
With equipment available at the club for use during the event, the focus is on drawing both accomplished and novice curlers as organizers try to surpass last year’s fundraising total of $12,000.
There is room for 30 rinks to participate, but with 22 already having signed up, the field is filling up quickly. Anyone wishing to sign up should do so before the event draw is made March 12-13.
Those wanting more information can contact Nadine Johnson at the Curling Rock Cafe (274-2808), Wendy Derendorf (274-6904), or Cheryl Behan (274-8797).
If you are planning any sporting events, or have some sports-related information or scores, feel free to call me at 274-5373 ext. 237 or by e-mail at jpayeur@fortfrances.com

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