Strathmore to host Alberta's best bantam players at the Alberta Cup in April 0
Josh Chalmers Multimedia Editor Strathmore Minor Hockey President Wayne Hansen (middle) chaired the bid committee, Strathmore Town Councillor Pat Fule (right) and Hockey Alberta General Manager Rob Litwinski represented their respective organizations at the announcement that Strathmore will be hosting the 2013 and 2014 Alberta Cups last August. After a year of planning the first event is upon us starting up Thursday, April 25 and lasting until Sunday.
After completing a months long bid process Strathmore has earned the right to host two years of Alberta's premiere bantam hockey tournament, the Alberta Cup.
The event, which will take place in late April at the Strathmore Family Centre, will feature the top 160 hockey players at the bantam age level in the final evaluation opportunity prior to the Western Hockey League (WHL) bantam draft.
"I think it's going to be great boon to our economy and it's going to put Strathmore on the map," said Strathmore Town Councillor Pat Fule. "We want to be known as one of those towns in this area that can be a real destination for people. It's always been a strong sports town but now attracting an event like this it's going to showcase the hockey athletes on such a high level."
Hockey Alberta General Manager Rob Litwinski said that Strathmore beat out two competing bids for the opportunity to host. Hockey Alberta just recently changed the bid process to award the tournament for two years and Litwinski said that is the main factor in receiving so many competitive bids.
"To have three was certainly something that was positive. We do think it had something to do with going to the two year host system," said Litwinski. "In the last number of years it's probably peaked, in the case of Strathmore they came into a competitive environment and obviously did well."
The Hockey Alberta GM continued that so far the two year hosting process has been met with approval.
"There are a lot of things where when you have those 'ah-hah' moments and you think that you'd do something differently the next time around you get a chance to do that. One of the challenges of doing it two years in a row is that you could be going back to the same people again. Lethbridge (the 2011 and 2012 host) definitely found it as a benefit," he said.
The announcement, which took place on Aug. 28 at the Strathmore Town Office, is only the beginning of what will be a long and arduous preparation process for the host committee.
"There was that moment of excitement, there was that moment of shock and then there was that moment of oh my god what have we got ourselves into. In the end we're really excited," said Host Committee Chairman Wayne Hansen. "Now the real work starts. We have to start getting committees together, and getting volunteers in place. We have to develop ticket strategies. There is an awful lot of work that has to be done in the next eight months for this event to come off and make this town look good, which is what our intention is."
For now the primary focus will be on getting the organizing committee and volunteers together.
"We have probably 70 per cent of our core organizing committee, underneath that there will be subcommittees under each organizing head and then subcommittees under those as well. We're maybe 10 per cent into the organizational structure that it takes to put on an event of this magnitude... We suspect we're going to need between 80-100 volunteers," said Hansen.
The host committee will also need to complete upgrades to the Family Centre which should be underway shortly.
"We're working on it. In the next two weeks I think you'll start to see some progress on the press box and the other one is just upgrades to the wireless and internet in the arena which can take place at their leisure," said Hansen.
All involved look at the tournament as something with multiple benefits. They include financial to the host community as well as being a boon to the local hockey organizations as well.
"The timing's fantastic. Hockey's over and it's not quite really good golfing weather yet. So to us it's still hockey season. The biggest thing is it gives the kids in our community the chance to see the commitment and the effort that it takes to succeed at this level," said Hansen.
Hockey Alberta was preaching the same message.
"It is about Alberta's top athletes at this age group moving into this type of event. We make this experience great for all the kids, good for all the parents and good for all of the scouts. When I say we I'm including Hockey Alberta and the host committee," said Litwinski. "It's an opportunity to celebrate hockey in your community. It's a chance for kids to see, especially those kids near that age group, what it takes to play at that level. For the younger kids, novice or atom, it's just a great event to be at. It all depends on what stage you're at in your minor hockey life."
As for town council's perspective Fule said that the benefits extend beyond just hockey.
"To me it feels like there is a new feeling in this town. That we're going to be able to bring people here and show people what a great town this is," he said. "We want to start doing some things. We just hired a new special events coordinator who's job it will be to try and bring different events to Strathmore to showcase us more."