The Kamloops Senior Hockey League, a long-time CARHA Hockey league, is a great example of how leagues can benefit from tightening up their structure and becoming more organized.
As a result of the league becoming more pro-active, they were able to plan for a sizeable donation to the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
We asked Russ Reid a few questions about how this came to be!
Tell us about the contribution you’re planning on making and how you came to this decision!
Four years ago, at the end of the season, we had a bank balance of only $2,500 or so with expenses coming up in the early fall for ice, etc. before we would have received enough players’ fees to cover them. An individual lent Kamloops Senior Hockey League the money to tide everything over for several months but we had to makea change.
The fee for the previous season was $275 per half, per full-time player. Spares were charged a small amount somewhat haphazardly and were few in number.
Norio Sakaki, a member of the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame and our President then, worked hard to expand the league to eight teams in four different age divisions and recruit a larger group of spares. We increased the fee to $325 per half for a full-time player (that included the $23 for CARHA Hockey membership) and the fee for a spare to $15 a game.
We decided to keep the fees the same for three years. During that time, the coordinators of each of the four age groups became aggressive at ensuring there were 20 players and two goalies at each game and collecting the fees from spares religiously. More players seemed to be taking longer vacations and our spare income began to soar.
As a result of these financial changes, our balance at the end of June this year was about $20,000.
Our Executive determined that we had to reduce this steadily increasing balance. Many options were examined but it was decided that really didn’t need fancy uniforms, team jackets, etc. as we don’t travel out of town to tournaments or anything. The final decision was to make a substantial donation to a local charity and this be to the public fund-drive to build the new tower for the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
The Committee of this fund-drive is just getting organized and it will be fall before it is underway. We have considered a one-time gift of $5,000 or $3,000 per year for three years. Along with this donation, there will be a modest reduction in fees to the players. We will follow the progress of this combination and hopefully be able to maintain a yearly donation and the lower fee structure.
What inspires your league to give back to those who are in need?
To be honest, I was surprised that there were only a few who felt that all the money should going to fee reduction and that so many were in favour of donation. Some factors - we are all over 55, we have had our share of hockey injuries and illnesses that have needed the hospital, and almost all of us have families. We can do the donation and reduce the fee by $25 per half per full-time player and that sounds like a win-win to us.
What makes hockey so special in our country to you?
For me it was growing up on Air Force bases, mostly in the flat east, and hockey was what we all did all the time in the winter. My two brothers were much better and had NHL try-outs. Our lives were centred around the game. For most of our guys, the stories are similar - it was the best part of being a kid. We were proud that our country was so good at it.
Do you have a favourite memory during your life in hockey?
I was an intern at Kingston General Hospital standing in a jammed-pack room when Paul Henderson scored that ’72 goal - nothing will ever beat that.