In it’s first year of existence, the School District 69 hockey program is having early success among the students and they’re doing it all on the ice at Oceanside Place.
Just three months old, the hockey program has 39 students, 10 of which are female. The program is offered to both students at Ballenas and Kwalikum secondary schools.
“We wanted to find something to give the kids a spark,” instructor Greg Lewis said. “Finding that spark to ignite something in our students was really the driving force between starting a course like this.”
“Having the chance to allow students to be involved in a hockey class as opposed to PE, it gives them the chance to take part in a class that they’ll want to be a part of.”
It’s a course that’s open to all students in School District 69, including one student who’s part of the class but is home schooled.
For Lewis, the class had its challenges but it was just a matter of trying it out to see how it would be received.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Lewis said. “There’s lots of factors that go into it, having to find the time to get the gear to the rink, what they’ll do with it after the class is over.”
“A lot of our students are in leagues here in Oceanside, so hauling the gear around is really the biggest challenge for our students I’d say. But we’re working through the kinks and seeing what works best, it’s a work in progress for sure but it makes it worth it seeing the way the kids take to it all.”
The students being part of local hockey leagues has also helped them with their league teams, getting extra practice time in each week.
“They’re out there lots,” Lewis said. “The average player gets about 25 hours of practice time in a month. We’re giving them an extra 30 hours on top of that, so they’re getting a lot of extra time to get better.”
“We’ve got Nolan Kurceba, who works with the Oceanside Generals as a goalie coach, coming and giving his time to the students here that play in goal. We’ve got eight kids that are goalies so having him come out and give them the instruction on the ice has been tremendous for them too.”
On December 17, the School District 69 Hockey program will hold its first inter-school game between Ballenas and Kwalikum at Oceanside Place. Both Rudy Terpstra, Ballenas principal, and Lori Marshall, Kwalikum principal, will be on hand for a ceremonial puck drop and might even skate a shift or two with students.
“We’ll see what happens there,” Lewis said with a laugh. “I know Mr. Terpstra plays regularly, so he might get in on the action. Ms. Marshall used to skate too, so she might join in on the fun.”
“It’s going to be great though, all these kids play together so there’s going to be lots of good spirited competition.”