50 years of inclusive hockey!
What an exciting start we have had to our 50th season! Over the summer the folks on the George Bray Sports Association’s board prepared for our move from the older Glen Cairn arena to the recently renovated Kinsmen Sports complex. The new facility came with so many great advantages with the biggest one being all our games could be played in a single day on Saturdays.
The Kinsmen arena has two great pads, spacious change rooms and even a concession stand to grab a hot coffee or some popcorn. With the two pads, we can run our entire program on a Saturday starting at 8:00 a.m. and finishing up by 1:30 p.m.!
The first few weeks have been so much fun, a bit chaotic for sure but a lot of fun too. Seeing our Junior players watching the Intermediate and Seniors play, knowing that one day, that will be them. Seeing our Intermediate and Senior players watching the Juniors and recognizing just how far they have come as hockey players. The energy in the arena is electric.
This year’s registration took place starting in September and we are happy to report that we welcomed over 40 new players to the league. Imagine 40 new kids playing Canada’s game!
For those of you that don’t know about us, back in 1968, George Bray was coaching hockey and he recognized a need for a place where kids with intellectual disabilities could play hockey and be a part of a team. From there, the George Bray Sports Association was born! Who would ever have thought that 50 years later, we would be going strong and growing! With over 200 players registered in the league spread over four divisions.
Our Fundamentals division consists of two teams, with all players being new to hockey and skating. We have a dedicated group of volunteers that work with these players to help increase their confidence on skates and get them to a point where they are able to stand and maybe even skate a bit independently. By January, the hope is that these players will be able to merge into the Junior division.
Our Junior division consists of four teams, with most players being in the age range of 7 to 12. These players are learning the basics of hockey and having a ton of fun along the way. The juniors have on-ice coaching during their games to help them understand and keep in the play.
In the Intermediate division, we have six teams with most players ranging in age from 12 to 17 but sometimes they are older. These players are taking what they have learned so far and are applying it to the game. We follow the rules of hockey – icing, off-sides – but our focus is on teamwork.
Our Senior division is also made up of six teams with an age range of 17 to whatever… we have players in the seniors that are in the 40+ age range. The majority of the players in senior have been with the league for many years. Why do they keep coming back? Because it’s fun, it’s where they are accepted and where they want to be!