The Trail Hockey Club Society (THCS) held their Annual General Meeting on Tuesday at the Trail Memorial Centre and came away with an understandably positive outlook on the 2018 fiscal year.
“Now that we’re not involved with the hockey club, it went like probably any other society, just go over the financial statements and see if we can get a few new members,” said THCS president Tom Gawryletz. “It went smooth.”
Formerly, the Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey Club Society, since the sale of the community-owned Trail Smoke Eaters, the THCS has continued to run the 50/50 draw at Smoke Eaters games as well as organize functions such as the golf tournament, parents night, the Silver City Days Sidewalk Cafe and other fundraising initiatives.
The success of the Smoke Eaters this past season and the record-setting crowds manifested itself in the 50/50 draws as the Society raised roughly $90,000 from home games.
The non-profit group is redefining itself and in the process, trying to help young athletes move on to college and university through its THCS scholarship fund.
“As of last night, we have 11 applicants for scholarship money and we extended it to Monday because we had a couple kids get back to us, and well being typical kids they just didn’t get it done, so we anticipate there will be around 12 or 13.”
The scholarships are available to players wanting to attend a post-secondary institution, and so far, Gawryletz says the society has received applications from Major Midget Kootenay Ice, Beaver Valley Nitehawks, and Smoke Eaters players.
The scholarships are also available to on-ice officials, Greater Trail Minor Hockey and the Female Wildcats players.
The THCS also raised another $47,000 from the Montreal Canadiens alumni game, the Smoke Eaters parents weekend and the golf tournament, as well as the 100th anniversary of the Maple Leaf Band. The Society started the year with about $150,000 in an interest bearing account made from the sale of the team.
“That was our goal initially, to invest that money then offer the scholarships on anything we made, but the 50/50 did so well we’re not going to have to touch any of that.”
The funds the society raises have to be distributed eventually, but the B.C. Gaming Commission’s red tape has made it difficult for the THCS to give money away. The Society applied to send $3,000 to the Humboldt Broncos fund, and while that one was ultimately allowed, other attempts failed.
“We applied for our licence and numerous different things,” said Gawryletz. “They got back to us and only granted us money for the scholarships this year, based on the fact that we’re sort of a new identity and we don’t own the hockey club anymore and we changed our name, and they felt we should wait a year. We ended up getting our (50/50) licence a day before the first game last year.”
If the Smoke Eaters can draw similar crowds to the arena next season, and owners Rich and Annie Murphy allow the THCS to carry on with the 50/50, many young athletes and organizations stand to benefit.
“We don’t anticipate those kinds of numbers, but you can never tell, even if we did 75 to 80 per cent of the 90 odd thousand, we’ll be pretty happy.”