Hockey district dispute penalizes children

This fall my seven-year-old granddaughter and six-year-old grandson excitedly anticipated their first year of minor hockey. She would be playing on a co-ed team, which was a huge leap outside her comfort zone, and he just couldn’t wait to get his stick on the ice!

This fall my seven-year-old granddaughter and six-year-old grandson excitedly anticipated their first year of minor hockey. She would be playing on a co-ed team, which was a huge leap outside her comfort zone, and he just couldn’t wait to get his stick on the ice!

They were signed up and assigned to teams in Stettler, which were based within the county where their parents live and pay property taxes and also where their school friends would be playing.

Within weeks, both children’s skating had improved substantially and they were both becoming adept at the skills of their newly chosen sport. They liked their teammates and coaches. After these initial few weeks, he was already setting up plays and scoring goals with his best little buddy from school and everyone was impressed with his ability. She was gaining confidence and ability and their parents were impressed with the coaching and the development of their children’s own natural abilities.

Six weeks into their season, with their team photos taken and first tournament coming up, a bomb was dropped that rocked their little world. They were informed by Hockey Alberta that the road that ran past their acreage was actually a minor hockey district boundary and they happened to live on the wrong side of that road. Therefore, they could no longer play where they were and were told they must report to a new team in a new community, Alix, in a different county, if they were to continue to play minor hockey. During the appeal process, the parents were advised they could petition the minor hockey association representative for the newly-appointed team, asking him to release the children so they could play as imports on their original team. The request was denied.

So with trepidation, the kids reported to the new team/community and signed up there to continue their hockey season. However, after only two practices my granddaughter felt uncomfortable enough to quit and after a few more practices, my grandson succumbed to the strangeness and the fact that the new team had been playing together for two months already and chose not to continue.

Great expense can be paid to cover the cost of yet another appeal to Hockey Alberta (we have been made aware of two other such appeals that have been won) in hopes the kids can rejoin their original teams before the season is over. But $600 is a bit steep so with frustration and many, many phone calls later, the parents have thrown up their hands in disgust and disbelief and chosen not to pursue it.

And so two hockey bags full of new equipment gather dust in the garage and two innocent children wonder why they were ‘kicked off’ their teams. I mean, really, this is minor hockey, not the NHL.

Cindy Scott

Red Deer

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