In an uncertain season of fitful starts and stops as well as a fluid landscape of rules and health protocols for all sports, the Tri-City Predators female hockey association has found a silver lining.
Nine of the organization’s teams donated ice time from games cancelled by the latest public health orders to hold skate-a-thons to raise money for the Share Family and Community Services food bank.
Frank Pearse, the coach of a U11 team, said the effort provided purpose to the weekly procession of practice and individual skills drills that was punctuated only briefly by competitive games before rising rates of COVID-19 restrictions lowered the boom again.
“It keeps the girls motivated,” he said of their drive to collect pledges for the number of laps each player can skate around the ice at Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex in an hour. “It’s giving them something to look forward to.”
Heather Fox, the association’s newly-minted president, said the lack of hockey has been more exhausting and challenging for its volunteers than running a season chock-a-block with games and tournaments.
“The biggest challenge has been staying on top of all the closure orders,” she said.
But, Fox added, that pales to the need to keep the girls active and on the ice.
“We’re just trying to keep a little stability and normalcy to everything.”
That drive hasn’t been lost on the players.
Madi Wakida, a centre on the U11 team, said she looks forward to getting on the ice for practice twice a week where she can work on her skating and sharpen her shot.
Ana Potter, a goalie and defenceman, said she’s been able to hone her kick save and get better at crossovers, while Paige Robinson said she enjoyed being able to see her friends at practice.
Those endorsements are like music to Fox’s ears.
While other minor sports groups suffered declines in registration because of the ongoing uncertainty, the Predators actually gained a player or two over its annual contingent of about 260 players.
“It just goes to show how much the girls love the sport,” she said. “The one thing COVID can’t stop is community.”
To support the Predators’ skate-a-thons, go to predatorsskateathon.com.