The young Sting hockey players were on covered ice and in skates of another kind this week, as the West Nipissing Minor Hockey Association held a disco roller-skating party at the Sturgeon Falls arena on May 23rd. Kids and parents showed up for pizza, fun and a big surprise: WNMHA’s unveiling of their league’s new jerseys. The presentation also featured representatives of the Caisse Alliance, who donated $43,000 towards the purchase of the jerseys.
Troy Lefebvre, Vice President of the WNMHA, explains that house league players will each receive a reversible jersey, while rep league players, who play more out-of-town games representing the community, will get two sets. “The existing jerseys we had, we had them for 7 years. The lifespan of a jersey is between 5 and 7 years. Probably what should have happened the previous year is that they should have put a plan in place to replace those jerseys, but they didn’t with COVID and everything,” says Lefebvre. The new board decided it was a good way to start their tenure with the purchase of new jerseys.
The WNMHA spent the season collecting funds for new jerseys during many tournaments and events. Lefebvre says the bulk of their own fundraising came from concessions and entry fees from their house league tournament, the NOHA’s Tournament of Champions, which they were lucky enough to host this year, and from their 3-on-3 tournament. In total, the association managed to raise $15,000 of the sum required and has the Caisse Alliance to thank for the other $43,000. “We’ve got extremely hard-working members here; Chantal Girard and Sara Gaudette were instrumental in applying for that grant through the Caisse. […] They applied, those ladies did all the work, they were fantastic,” Lefebvre acknowledges.
Marcy Lemieux, Regional Manager at the Caisse Alliance, explains that they are always happy to give back to community organisations like youth sports leagues. “There are criteria, and the Caisse, we have a committee of members that go through applications,” she describes, adding that they consider community, social, environmental, and health impacts. She says that the WNMHA certainly fit many of their criteria. “We have kids from Verner playing, we have kids from Sturgeon playing, and all the surrounding areas. It also reaches kids from 4 up to 18, so it’s a big age group.” Lemieux adds that hockey helps keep kids healthy and socially engaged.
Lefebvre says that over 100 members of the WNMHA attended the event. When asked why they decided to host such an event for the unveiling, he says that he believes “with something so special as the Caisse has done and donated that amount of money towards our association and these kids, I think the least we can do is make a public thank you for them, and in front of all our membership here so they can see where this money is coming from. We’re very appreciative of the donation they made.” The announcement certainly made everyone present happy, as the surprise was met with plenty of applause and excitement.