Help us make sure Hockey Calgary hears: #wearewarriors
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I am a mom of three children that have played hockey with the Northwest Warrior Hockey Association in Calgary. As with many hockey parents (at least in our city), every few years there is talk of boundary reviews. Six years ago, this led to a merger of two smaller associations; the Westwood Warriors (where we played out of) and the Crowchild Blackhawks. This was done as Hockey Calgary felt that both associations were too small. As they each had a long history in Northwest Calgary, in an extraordinary show of collaboration, that has led to an association that honours both founding associations and is one of the larger ones in Calgary; 47 teams in this last year (placing it as one of 2 associations in the "ideal" range of players based on communications through the years).
Over this last season, there have been many rumours. The possible changing of boundaries is always hard on any kids and families that are impacted. But it that was the decision, we were ready to act accordingly. At the end of the day, we have to have faith that the decisions are about what is best for all that play, and will help to grow a game that we love.
BUT... Saturday the 16th, for the first time, our association heard that there are three options being voted on (down from the close to 50 that had been circulated in January); status quo (leaving boundaries as they are), an option that would see some players move associations (which impacts many associations beyond ours), and one that has stunned our family; no longer recognizing the Northwest Warriors organization as a community hockey association at all and dividing our players between 3 associations (the NWW is a hockey association that serves over 800 players from 15 communities that over 89,631 Calgarians call home). EDITED NOTE 3.18.18... from what we understand, it is not just our association that is on the chopping block. And not just ours has expressed concern. As of Feb 20th, Northwest, Blackfoot, Bow Valley, Saints, Glenlake, Southwest, Trails West and Springbank were advocating "status quo". The 8 associations involved comprise greater than 60% of the number of registered teams in Hockey Calgary.
At first, this felt that this was about spreading the word in our association. To let Hockey Calgary know that this was not ok. But the more I think about it, this is about anyone that loves hockey, any Calgarian, and honestly? Anyone that feels like community and keeping kids in sport matters.
Please sign this petition if you feel like any of those statements resonates with you. If this could happen to an association of our size (again, the membership is not asking for this), it could happen anywhere. Please help us let Hockey Calgary know that entertaining an option of disbanding an association that is strong, vibrant and growing in numbers is NOT ok. Let Hockey Calgary, and those that are about to vote hear these words #wearewarriors
Below is what I sent to Hockey Calgary Executive Director, Kevin Kobelka last night:
Kevin Kobelka (cc: Northwest Warriors administration),
I am respectfully sending this to you as a concerned Northwest Warrior parent.
It has been brought to our attention that there is a Hockey Calgary vote regarding the boundaries within Hockey Calgary that will be happening in the next few days. And that there are three choices: status quo (leaving boundaries as they are), an option that would see some of our players move associations, and one that has stunned our family; the complete dissolution of the Northwest Warrior Hockey Association. A hockey association that serves 15 communities that have a combined population of 89,631 Calgarians (using 2016 numbers).
Where do I start? I guess with this. We have had all three of our children in hockey. Our oldest son started as a Westwood Warrior "Blue Shark" Timbit in 2008 (at the time, his sister was three, and his brother 6 months). Our daughter started the next year on the Westwood Warrior Timbit "Tornadoes". And our youngest 4 years later. We have, through the three of them, been on 21 "Warrior" hockey teams through the years. Seven of those as Westwood Warriors, and 14 teams under the Northwest Warriors banner.
Over those 21 teams, my husband has been an assistant coach on all but 3 teams, and I have done everything from fundraising to tournament planning. Although I have never held a board position within either hockey association, I have trusted those that have given their time through the years to make decisions that were in the best interests of the hockey players and families that they represented. Even as the Westwood Warriors and Crowchild Blackhawks were merging, and as stressful as that was on players and families, we supported decisions knowing that those changes were happening for the benefit of all. In an effort to make hockey available and equitable for more young athletes.
We have always understood that our association was a bit of an anomaly. With an aging demographic in our original Westwood communities, the geographic area that we encompassed was huge (20 minute drive from end to end of the areas that we drew from). When we merged with Crowchild, our population base grew by close to 50%. And with younger demographics in those communities, the base of hockey players grew even bigger. The merger was done thoughtfully and respectfully, and from there, great bonds and teams have been built.
It is with that knowledge that I am stunned to think that anyone could believe that disbanding a community association that had its birth six years ago through the collaboration of two associations is a viable one (by 2012, Crowchild had fallen below the suggested minimum level of participants by Hockey Calgary, and Westwood was close to being there).
Even prior to the merger, these two associations have had a strong and LONG history in Calgary's Northwest. Our youngest son played this year in the 36th annual Crowchild Classic. And it was interesting to see that on the 1983 "champions list", the Crowchild Blackhawks won the atom division, and the Westwood Warriors won the Peewee division. There are families that have had multiple generations play within the two organizations. And there is great pride in that.
So... back to the concern at hand. How is one of the largest associations in the city (47 teams at my count this year) even being considered as one that needs to be disbanded? How can splitting up over 800 players and their families bring anything positive? For the building of community? For the betterment of sport? For the growing of the game of hockey? Two years ago Hockey Calgary launched a campaign #hockeyinspires. The possible proposal that you are voting on brings the exact opposite to all those impacted.
If we use this year as an average, our youngest son (Atom) had 111 hockey "events" (practices, games, team bonding event, and fundraisers) over this last year. We are well past 2500 "hockey events" though our combined 21 teams. 2500 occasions were volunteers have led and inspired our children to be better athletes, team members, and young community members. 2500 occasions were they have been able to build connections and community with the hundreds of Warrior families that we have been on teams with.
I am so very grateful that our board let us know this weekend about the decisions that you are voting on. And I can assure you that our association DOES represent our voice, and the voice of hundreds of families that we know. Families that vehemently want you to take the option of disbanding our association off the table. Please do not, for one second, believe that tearing apart communities, in any way, is something that is a benefit for anyone.
At a time like this, while so many families struggle with economic hardships in our city, activities and organizations that bring people together need to be supported. They need to be celebrated. And they need to be included in a thoughtful and diligent process that engages all stakeholders at all levels with transparency. Although we were well aware that there was a boundary review happening, I struggle to understand how the NWW, as one of two associations in Calgary that are close to the "ideal" number of participants, could be not just impacted. That it could be destroyed.
Hockey is important to our family. Mostly because of the community that we have felt around us. Hockey can inspire. When it brings people together. Please let our kids play. Surrounded by the coaches and players that they know.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our concerns. I will post this to my network. Not to discredit. Rather to challenge the process. And ask for a more thoughtful and complete review of what the real concerns are for growing the game of hockey here in Calgary.
Parent of a current NWW, a Bantam AA Fire player, and a proud NWW alumni
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