Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Hockeyville Alberta

Project! I mentioned last month that Warner, Alberta (~60km SE of Lethbridge, pop. 380) was in the running to become Kraft/CBC Hockeyville. They have now made the Top 10, and voting is underway until Friday at 9AM to cut it down to the Top 5.

I would appreciate it very much if you could take a few seconds to head over to the CBC's site and vote for Warner. There's two main reasons why I think it's worthy of your support:

1) The prize, apart from $50k for rink upgrades, is that they get to host an NHL event. Last year, that event was a preseason game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. The winner was Salmon River, NS, who actually held the game next door in Truro.

The assumption here, certainly on the part of the contestants, is that a Flames-Oilers preseason game is the most likely event; if not in Warner, then here in Lethbridge. This would be an awesome opportunity for a BoA event; I would do whatever I could to accumulate tickets.

2) The Warner back story -- why they're in the running -- is pretty cool, and probably appeals specifically to a lot of this site's readers.

Earlier this decade, Warner School was faced with closure due to declining enrolment and no real prospect for improvement. Edmontonians and Calgarians alike have seen this show before, usually in city core neighbourhoods: what happens is that the locals hold public meetings, make appeals/threats to the school board and their MLAs, etc.: the result then is either that the school closes anyway, or it's kept open at taxpayer's expense even though it's half-full and requires twice as much maintenance as newer schools. Repeat process again in a year or two. Either the neighbourhood residents or the taxpayers end up as definite losers.

Warner went in a different direction. Having recently put some money and sweat into renovating their hockey rink, they came up with the bright idea of the Warner Hockey School. Whoever had it must have sounded insane:
I know how to increase our enrolment! Let's start a girls' hockey school, and charge people from all over North America thousands and thousands of dollars to come live in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere! We'll attract a quality coach even though we have no program yet, or, we'll fill up the program even though we don't have a quality coach yet! Lots of bus travel! This is can't miss!!!

Fast forward...:
Warner Graduates have gone on to play in some of the top programs in the NCAA and CIS as well as the Alberta College League. In only 3 seasons Warner graduates have earned over 2 million dollars in scholarships and financial aid. Our program has placed 100% of our graduates in a post secondary program.

They're turning girls away now. The Warner Warriors are 19-3-2 in the Alberta girls Midget-AAA league (16-1-0 in non-league).

The community of Warner got to keep their school open. Girls/families pay voluntarily to participate in a strong program and get a leg up on a good (and potentially free) post-secondary program education. Taxpayers in Edmonton & Calgary (and Red Deer, Ft. Mac, etc.) aren't being fleeced to cover political promises. And needless to say, not only the Warner Hockey School's existence, but the manner in which it was developed, is an enormous source of pride for the town. Win-win-win-win-win.

I've heard/read the Warner people say a couple of times that hockey saved their school, and maybe their town. This is a bit of a disservice to them, overly modest really: what really saved them was self-reliance, entrepreneurial spirit, and character. But if becoming Hockeyville is what it takes to get them some recognition, then I'm all for it.
We’re asking everybody to vote as many times as they can as often as they can,” said Mark Lowe [no relation - ed.], principal of Warner School, at a school assembly Monday to announce the small community had made the first cut.

You bet, sir.


said Mark Lowe [no relation - ed.]

Good notice, because you would have lost me at that point.

Nanaimo is in the running? WTF?

Voted. Done and done.

How can one NOT get behind that?

The Girls School (this from someone with children in Warner School, and playing in Minor Hockey) has divided this community. These girls are quite simply rude, prima donna's. It has saved the high school, but only so far that our kids have to still take half of their classes through DL, lovely. Minor Hockey is not mentioned once, and yet has 6 teams, with players from all over Southern Alberta, and Northern Montana, 3 of which are going to provincials. Our rink does not need an upgrade. It was rebuilt in 2000-2001, and is awesome for a community of our size. The money is going towards a Million Dollar Dressing room for the girls, although they say others can use it. Sure. And to think that this was done without any government help is total BS, Horizon School Division has sunk $10's of thousands of dollars into this project, both in money, and labour. For every local who is behind it, there are now 3 sick and tired of it. Go vote for Rockford, They Need a new rink! Warner does not, they already have one.

Meh, I'll vote for Warner.

Re: Anonymous comments. . .
We had a Warner Hockey School Girl live in our home for two years. Many more of them have been frequent visitors. I have closely looked for all the signs, but have not yet met a 'rude prima donna'. I have heard about how Warner District Minor Hockey did not recieve their due recognition in the Hockeyville application. I can only guess they were all too busy yelling at their kids, a ref or coach to take time to make an application themselves. If you are looking for perfection, you are looking in the wrong place. Perhaps in 'Rockford' your tax dollars would not be wasted, minor hockey recognized properly and your kids would not have to take any D.L. courses? You are right about the community being divided. There would be you and then there is the rest of us who try to do our best to improve the community we choose to call home.


I'm only going to comment on this once. I will retract my statement about the rude prima donna's. I have been personally treated rudely, and many others have as well, but I know most of the time, and most of the girls are just fine. I apologize for that. I'm not against the school, I am against the new building, and believe it needs to be rethought. A new dressing room is needed for the girls, granted, but not at a cost pushing truthfully, a million dollars. There will actually be four new dressing rooms, one for the girls, 3 for others. But we all know there is a push for not only another girls team, but possibly a boy's as well. So how much Minor Hockey gets to use the new building , and at what cost remains to be seen. The important thing for Minor Hockey is that the girls are no longer in our arena during our games, and our practices, and the new building will accomplish that at least. I believe Hockeyville is about helping out the community most in need and most deserving. Warner is not the community most in need, we have a great arena for a community of our size, plain and simple. Unfortunately I have to remain anonymous, these small towns do not any longer allow discussion of ideas or issues and that is terrible, but true. I'm not saying anything here that most people aren't thinking in our community, but to criticize the girl's program , no matter how constructively, is obviously not allowed. Those critical of the program in any way risk their jobs, their friends, their businesses, their lives really. Think about that for a bit. Think about the whole program, and is it worth the cost, and does it accomplish the right goals. Are your children best served by the school and education which they have been forced to participate in. People are right now on a bandwagon, and it's fun and exciting, but perhaps it needs a little (or a lot)more thought before we're left covering the cost of a facility we don't need and can't afford. It is understood that right now, less than a third of the money needed to build this building has been raised, note to contractor. Already Minor Hockey fees have doubled largely because of the girls school and their need for ice time in August, additional maintenance during the day, and the Village subsidizing or giving the girls program ice. Who is going to pay the utilities and maintenance of this new facility? Horizon School Division? The Village of Warner? Minor Hockey? The Girls program doesn't have enough funding to pay all of their bills, let alone any additional ones. So, in short, let's not do anything hasty which we may regret. That's all.

i want to thank Derek for sticking up for the girls, as i have never been treated rudly in my time spent around the program. i just want to say how ridiculous the comments made by this anonymous blogger are, they say that we cant afford the new athletes center and that we dont need the money, yeah your right, there is alot of money in the program, but may i ask, what was the idea behind the hockey school and the hockey canada skills academy in the first place? i may venture to guess that the intent was to make money and to save the school. they say that the new center would be a good idea as, "The important thing for Minor Hockey is that the girls are no longer in our arena during our games, and our practices, and the new building will accomplish that at least", so may i ask, why is this person so against this new building? the new building will be great for minor and the elite hockey programs. if you are worried about your tax dollars being spent on this "terrible" athletes center, dont get to worked up yet as these girls and boys should be rewarded, they are paying upwards of $18,000 and part of that tuition is in fact going toward the center. yeah maybe we cant afford the center right now and there is only a third of the money raised...so why not jump on the Hockeyville bandwagon and win the prize, at least then you wont have to lose any sleep over the wasted tax dollars.

Re: I'm only going to comment once. . .

Hockeyville is actually not based on need. "Kraft Hockeyville 2007 will seek out the commnunity with the most spirit, courage, energy and determination." I am sorry that you feel that you cannot express your opinion in the community. I would welcome a conversation with you. I have a feeling we would both learn something. You may consider writing a letter to the Warner School, Warner Hockey Society, Warner Minor Hockey, Horizon School Division etc. You can write me and I will forward the information. I am sure that we are both adult enough to agree or agree to disagree. Nothing is accomplished with negativity that is quite often generated by misinformation and/or misunderstanding. Communication is very important and needs to be heard by more than the people on this blog. How can anything change, if we don't have everyone's opinion. I have sat at meetings for hundreds of hours, expressing my opinion over and over. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. I certainly do not agree with everything that happens out there but, meh, life goes on. If we do not work together to make the WHS/WS/Warner better, the only alternative I have seen offered is to sit and complain and wait for the next west wind to blow us all away . . . school, store, post office, rink and what few jobs there are. Think about that for a bit. WHS is a not for profit business. We need a bigger facility for the business to grow, because like any business it needs to grow or it will die. Simple. We have been involved with Minor Hockey for 16 years. This is indeed an exciting one. The Atoms have set the bar very high and that is great. If you need more publicity and recognition than you are getting you would have to work at it. Press releases, phone calls to media etc. It is a do-it-yourself world out there and you will be waiting a long time for someone to do it for you.

This really isn't about Hockeyville. Over the last few days I've actually decided that Warner should win, just to get it over with, and so we don't have to do this all over again. My main issues are :
- Minor Hockey and the Village subsidizing the girls program
- Ordering a building without funding in place
- Ordering a building which is 3 times more expensive than what is needed
- Horizon School Division working on Dormitories instead of schools
- Spending a million dollars on dressing rooms, when 2 million may be enough to put a new building over the ice surface large enough for expanded seating, dressing rooms, everything...
- The quality of education in Warner has not improved, especially for our young children. Notice many of the teachers refuse to live here, and refuse to send their children here.
- Negativity with regards to projects/ideas which you believe to be misguided, or even wrong is not only important, it is essential. Negativity at the right time and place can do tremendous good. This is probably not the right place granted, but it's the only one I've come across in which I feel safe to express my views.
- This is not about publicity for Minor Hockey, what does a Minor Hockey Association need publicity for?
In a nutshell this is about my child's education. The whole girls hockey program was supposed to save our school, improve my child's education, and it has not. Building this new building will not improve my child's education. It will give the girls a cushy place to get dressed, but that's about it. There is plenty of space available in the school right now for everything else which will be in that building. To really build the school population to a size where it's decent we do probably need three teams (or 4 or 5 or 6), which means more government money (and yes grants are government money, as is Horizon employee time) for dorm's, coaches, cooks, etc. etc. etc. Does it make sense? I think not. Price it out per child, it's absolutely unbelievable what is being spent. And their education has not improved one iota. We need to give our heads a good shake. All I'm asking is that things are reassessed, That's all.

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