Children had a blast skating with the Fort Frances Lakers on Thursday at the Ice For Kids Arena during their “Fan Appreciation Skate.”
The event was free to attend, and all who came out received a complimentary hotdog, bag of chips, cookies, and hot chocolate courtesy of Integral Hockey Stick Repair, Wasaw Foods, and Sysco Foods.
Event organizer and Lakers’ head coach Wayne Strachan was happy with the number of youngsters who turned out.
“I didn’t really know what to expect being the 4:30 [p.m.] start time . . . but there’s definitely a lot of kids out there and they look like their having fun with the guys,” he remarked.
“It’s good for the players to interact and give back to the community.”
The “Fan Appreciation Skate” is one of the ways the Lakers are letting fans know how important they are to the team, Strachan said.
“We appreciate everything they do for us and the support that they give us year-round,” he stressed.
“Really, without them, we wouldn’t be able to do this year to year so this is just one way to give back.”
Strachan has noted a spike in support from the fans so far this season compared to the last few seasons, which has helped the team thrive.
“Having more local players on the team this year has definitely helped and the crowds compared to last year or the previous year have been a lot larger,” he remarked, adding that fan support is what enables the team to carry on in the community.
“We don’t have an owner, we’re community-owned and driven,” Strachan explained.
“It’s a lot of volunteerism, a lot of fundraising, and the more support we get fan-wise helps with our revenue to keep us going.”
The club, meanwhile, strongly values being present in the community and most recently, Lakers’ players been visiting district schools to help around classrooms.
They assist teachers in delivering lessons, helping students with reading, interacting in activities, helping in gym class with sports, and serving as role models.
As well, players have assisted with the Sunset Country Métis “Healthy Food Box” program and helped tie skates for young figure skaters at the arena.
Looking ahead to 2019, the Lakers hope to find other ways to give back and stay connected to both the community and their fans.
“If anyone is looking for help or needs help, they can contact us, as well,” Strachan noted.
Any community-driven program, fundraiser, or special event that could benefit from having Lakers’ players present is encouraged to e-mail Strachan at email@example.com
“We’re willing to help out with anything and everything, really, to show that we’re here,” Strachan said.