OFSAA signs on first ‘gold’ sponsor

Chris McKinnon is able to take you back 16 years during a time in Fort Frances when Muskie hockey was the talk of the town.
The year was 1989 and the Muskies were hosting the provincial boys’ championship.
McKinnon, a member of the local Bantam traveling team at the time, was selected along with two others by then Muskie head coach Terry Ogden to be members of the team in a practice squad capacity.
“They were concerned with the possibility of injuries, so they wanted to have a few guys in the wings just in case anything happened to the players. But we went into [OFSAA] healthy,” noted McKinnon, who didn’t play during the tournament but did in four games leading up to it.
The Muskies came away with the gold medal that year.
So when McKinnon found himself in a position to give back to a program that had given him so much, it was easy for the owner of Skates & Blades to sign on as the first “gold” sponsor for OFSAA 2006, which is being held here next March.
“I’ve got some deep Muskie roots and it’s something that I want my business to be associated with,” said McKinnon, who was a full-time member of the Muskies from 1990-92.
“I believe it’ll be a good event for the community, and other than the bass tournament, I believe it’ll be the biggest thing to hit Fort Frances since the last OFSAA championships.”
OFSAA co-convener Greg Ste. Croix hopes this will be the start of seeing other local businesses sign on.
“I’m very hopeful that this will be a great starting point for other businesses to come on board and be able to get some great advertising at a provincial event,” he remarked.
“The buzz is around town,” Ste. Croix added. “I think Skates & Blades signing on is a great first step and I know that once the ball gets rolling that it’s going to have a big effect on the community.
“We’re hoping for a snowball effect and just getting bigger, bigger, and bigger.”
McKinnon, who will be the owner of Skates & Blades for two years come August, had always wanted to be a part of OFSAA as a player, but he sees how much he can contribute to the event as an owner of a business.
“It was really easy to say yes,” he noted. “Our main business is hockey. We’ve got hockey players that work for us, we know that hockey is very important to Fort Frances, so that means its very important to us.
“So when we were approached, it was quite easy to say yes.”
“It was a letdown in my high school career that I never went to OFSAA,” McKinnon admitted.
“But when I look at it now and look at it from a different perspective, and see what these kids are going through, and the stuff that I went through 15 years ago, I want to be part of it.
“I think that anyone that has anything to do with the community should be on board with OFSAA 2006,” he stressed.
There are four levels of sponsorship that businesses or individuals can choose from: Gold ($2,500 plus), Silver ($1,000-$2,499), Bronze ($500-$999), or Friends of the Tournament ($250-$499).
“The sponsorship role is pretty much filled by John Pierce,” said Ste. Croix. “He’s one of those committee members that is extremely dedicated.
“Everyone knows John Pierce in the community and he works very hard and takes a lot of pride in his work.
“And I’m very excited to start seeing other businesses jump on board,” Ste. Croix added.