It’s already that time of year, to sharpen skates, tape sticks, and make sure the hockey gear still fits young players.
Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association (GTMHA) hits the ice this week with the first of its rep tryouts commencing, and house-league action in hot pursuit.
Beginning its second full season as an amalgamated force, GTMHA has 350 players registered so far this season from novice to Midget.
“Our numbers are down for junior novice which are the first-year kids, so we would like to see more of them join in,” said GTMHA vice president and registrar Kim Drake.
New players are the foundation of any league, and GTMHA makes it more affordable for novice players to join, keeping the registration fee at $150 as opposed to fees ranging from $300 to $500 for Atom to Midget, depending on whether parents take advantage of early registration.
The official registration deadline is Dec. 1, but the league is flexible and won’t turn anyone away that really wants to play. Furthermore, those families with multiple hockey enthusiasts or families that just can’t afford it can access a number of programs that offer financial support.
“We encourage (families) to start with KidSport and (Canadian Tire’s) JumpStart, but we as well have a cinderella fund,” said Drake.
KidSport offers up to $200 per child to pay for registration, while JumpStart helps out with equipment, registration, and/or transportation.
Families can apply through GTMHA or Greater Trail Aquatic Centre and Beaver Valley Rec. Since its inception in the fall of 2011, the KidSport program has funded registration for almost 80 kids in 11 different sports, issuing close to $12,000 in funds.
It was uncertain how smoothly last year’s amalgamation of the Beaver Valley Minor Hockey and Rossland-Trail Minor Hockey Associations would proceed and how it would affect numbers, but according to Drake, it went off with few hitches.
“It went really well, everything as far as the executive from B.V. and Rossland-Trail, everything’s gone smoothly. There’s been a few little hiccups, like finding enough jerseys to have everyone in, but I think everything went well.”
And like any organization, GTMHA is always looking for coaches at the house and tier-3 level, and will reimburse any required coaching courses taken online such as the national coaching certification, Respect-in-Sport certificate and the Hockey Canada Safety Program.
The association will also honour long-time coach and mentor and recent BC Hockey coach of the Year recipient, Ken Koshey, who also won the GTMHA a cool $20,000 via the Kraft HockeyGoesOn contest in April. With the funds, the GTMHA purchased portable bumpers or dividers so arenas can accommodate more young skaters without interfering with nearby drills or scrimmages.
“That’s one thing Kenny has always been trying to get kids out there and having fun, so who knows if we can do it like during a Smokies game, so there is more kids out on the ice. Because they get out there and it’s like wow this is big ice, they’re exhausted in that intermission that takes five minutes.”
GTMHA also receives funds from the B.C. Lottery Corp. and last season picked up an extra $65,000 in grants.
“Our biggest cost of course is the ice, so that pays the ice fees, and then keeps the registration down,” said Drake.
However, the accessibility of the grants is dependent on GTMHA membership numbers. The Gaming Commission recently conducted an audit and recommended that GTMHA increase its membership to remain eligible for the grant. Anyone over 19 can become a member. With annual dues of a toonie, it is affordable and requires little effort other than filling out a membership form and returning it with $2.
For more info go to gtmha.com.