Friday, February 18, 2011

A Community Supports Junior Hockey

Last Friday evening an event took place here in St. Andrews which illustrated just what a supportive community we live in. I was asked several weeks ago to assist in orchestrating a fund raising dinner for the local junior hockey team - The St. Andrews Whalers. I quite happily agreed to help. The event was designed to be an auction and dinner for 120 people. The evening was regaled as a huge success both financially and socially and I hope has injected much needed renewed energy into supporting this fine team. There were several points of etiquette which emerged as noteworthy from my perspective.

First of all, generosity of spirit and time prevailed. Over twenty individuals took time out of their busy schedules to ensure that this fund raising event was fun and successful. An additional 100+ people bought tickets to the turkey dinner banquet and participated in both the silent and live auctions. Many people traveled from Saint John to be a part of this evening - a example of true dedication and commitment to The Whalers.

Secondly, almost half of the team participated in this dinner as waiters, bid runners, and dish washers. I don't think the guys knew what they were in for, but they chipped in whenever asked (for the most part) and made sure everyone's food was delivered hot and in a timely manner. With very little coaching from me and with no previous experience as waiters, they did themselves proud and should be able to feel good about the efforts they made. The team captain helped with the bulk of the washing up afterwards. Many hands made light work!

Thirdly, the community as a whole realized how important this dinner would be for the financial health of the team. Hockey is after all a major sport in Canada. Despite the fact that almost none of the players are from St. Andrews, the games the junior league plays on home ice here provides great sporting events for people from all over Charlotte County and beyond. Many folks donated items personally and from their businesses. By pulling together and with some pressure from their friends, about eighty items were collected for the auction. This outpouring of generosity was impressive!

Finally, this event was an opportunity for a very diverse group of leaders in our community to roll up their sleeves and get involved. These folks chose to show by example how a community can unite to assist a group in need. This action demonstrates precisely how we pass important values from one generation to the next one. For many on the team this dinner, and the resultant financial assistance to the team as a whole, was the first time they could actually see a cause and effect dynamic transpire. Since playing junior hockey does not come with a price of admission (in other words, players pay no dues or entry fee), these young men can tend to take things for
granted. Over the past few years income from the "gate" has decreased substantially. This has brought some harsh realities into focus for them for the first time.

The Whalers hope that more people will come out to watch the games and to support their efforts. They are a good team of dedicated hockey players. The team's coach and management are also to be commended and encouraged. These are the men who instill leadership qualities and a sense of responsibility in their players. I'm sure they teach them plenty about the sport and how to play the game as skillfully as possible. Most importantly however, they are teaching life lessons, the most valuable lessons a sport can teach. These are the lessons which these young men will carry with them throughout their lives. The fact that the players themselves took some ownership of and responsibility for this wonderful community event indicates that they are no longer taking things so much for granted. I wish the team well in the future. There will be many obstacles to challenge them. Strong community support and the team efforts will hopefully insure many seasons of hockey for The Whalers.