By Mark Campbell
We all know it. The last two years have been an endless cycle of stops and starts. Schools, restaurants, gyms and most elements of the service industry have had to endure the repeating waves of lockdowns and reopenings.
Generally, the media has focused on the education system and there has not been a lot of attention paid to the many activities kids are involved in outside of the classroom. These include sports teams, dance studios, gymnastics and swimming clubs, Guiding and Scouting, among other activities. Some have managed to migrate to the online world, but the kids will agree it is not the same experience.
One institution that has been a fixture in this community for nearly 70 years is the West Hill Golden Hawks Minor Hockey Association. This organization is completely volunteer-run and has not been immune from the ups and downs of the pandemic.
Additionally, in late 2019, just prior to the COVID outbreak, a roof problem closed the Golden Hawks’ home arena, Heron Park, for roughly two months. The following March saw the complete shutdown of the league when the first COVID lockdown hit. Then, the entire 2020-21 season was cancelled.
In the summer of 2021, West Hill announced they would be offering a full program of House League, Select and Competitive teams. While registrations are down this year, the spirits are high. The decline in numbers is likely due to the hesitancy of some people to return to public spaces. However, despite an additional shutdown from mid-December to the end of January, the important thing is that the kids are now back on the ice.
“Returning to hockey makes me happy. I get to see all my friends and it’s fun to have parents watch me play,” said Declan Morey, 11. Declan plays U13 House League and is also a key contributor on the U12 Select team.
Declan’s father, Darryl, added, “the return to hockey for [us] signifies a return to a weekly routine. It’s nice to see the players interacting at the rink once again.”
One of Declan’s teammates in House League, Sienna Page, is playing in her first year of organized hockey. “Starting hockey at a slightly older age, it’s been hard trying to find the extra ice that would normally be available to help her catch up,” said Sienna’s father, Chris, “but that hasn’t dampened her excitement and interest in the sport!”
One common thread is always about friendships that form at the arena. For many, the weekly trips to the rink are a family affair. “Hockey has meant that our kids get to play with their friends again, they get to make new friends and we as parents get to enjoy watching our kids have fun at the rink,” said Maggie Spence. Her sons, Mason and Marcus, ages nine and seven, both play House League and Select and their father, Mike, coaches both kids.
For more information about the West Hill Golden Hawks, please go to whmha.goalline.ca