By K.A. Pendergast
Modern day Hockey began reportedly in the 1500’s although there are traces back to B.C. Hockey is a very important sport in our own small town of Clearwater and Canada as a whole. We like to think of it as our National Sport. Well why not when we all want to have a sport that is our own! This is a great one to have right? I realize there may be some who are (gasp) not fans of the sport. Possibly thinking it is too violent or what-have-you. However, it is definitely a good thing to have something such as Hockey to pull this community and even our country as a whole together. What works to bring people to a common cause is nearly always a good thing. Hockey is not just an ordinary game! Kids and adults of all ages love to play it! Kids like to wave at the hard-working Zamboni drivers. They even dream of becoming one of them. Fans love to watch. Sure, there is sometimes a bit of violence, but it is not as if the players are not consenting to it right? Kinda like a boxing match? Both competitors know they may get hit and try to be ready. Maybe pushing their way around the rink is better than say driving aggressively later on? What do you think about that?
Skating according to Wikipedia is the self propulsion of a person across a sheet of ice, using metal-bladed ice skates to glide on the ice surface. This activity can be carried out for various reasons, including recreation, sport, exercise and travel. Ice skating may be performed on specially prepared ice surfaces (arenas, tracks, parks), both indoors and outdoors, as well as on naturally occurring bodies of frozen water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers.
Clearwater is lucky enough to have a few home and outdoor rinks as well as the North Thompson Sportsplex. The Sportsplex forever changed the play in the area. No longer do players have to shovel off the rink just to play a game for an hour or two. Nor do they have to worry if it was getting too warm and the ice not being safe to play. Hockey could now be played, for months on end.
In December 1974 the North Thompson Sportsplex opened its doors to the public. Sign-ups for Hockey had already started in August. There were those also signing up for figure-skating and curling. The newly formed Raft Mountain Figure Skating Club was ready to start its first season. Newly elected Minor Hockey Association president Stan Saari got the registration for Minor Hockey underway in September that year. This was to be the first year that Clearwater players would be able to play hockey with the benefits of artificial ice in the new Sportsplex., and the Sportsplex actually opened their doors to skaters on the last weekend of the year.
There were numerous glitches in the first few years and a few temporary closures, but the spirit of hockey lived on and was ready to continue whenever the doors were open. Kids teams as well as a Commercial League for the men were started and got underway as soon as they could. Teams from Kamloops, Ashcroft and Valemount to name a few, came to give some competition to the local players. Game and competition skills grew over the years, as well as different leagues and groups, with teams travelling far and wide representing the Clearwater area. Teams were sent to zones, provincials and a Midget team to Finland, Sweden and the Soviet Union.
Today hockey has not slacked off in the hearts of the Clearwater community, although the numbers of teams and players varies from year to year, they still love the game as much as ever.
Regardless of how it all came about this sport lives on, and especially in many local hearts. Clearwater annually pulls together to show their community spirit and wear jerseys during Hockey week. Residents take some extra time to chat with others who are doing the same – supporting their town. Whether they are players or fans, or just know some kids or relatives who play. It is not just about the game itself, although that is huge. Clearwater is a community who pulls together during tough times. The Spirit of Hockey lives in Clearwater and always will.