By: Steve Burroughs
The Burford Coyotes are back on the ice as the 2020-21 season began this month. While this season looks different than previous years, it hasn’t changed the excitement and enthusiasm of the players. Teams are adjusting to the fast-paced action of 3-on-3 hockey to comply with Public Health and Hockey Canada protocols but despite the different look of the game, the fun and enjoyment of Canada’s favourite past time is more evident than ever.
Burford District Minor Hockey Association has worked hard to create the opportunity for players to get back on the ice and to experience a hockey season while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Players and coaches are self-screening prior to every game and practice, and smaller teams are allowing for safer cohorts of players. The season may change as the guidelines and player regulations shift due to COVID-19 safety measures but for now the young Coyotes are happy to be back in the action.
The competition looks very different this year. All age divisions are competing against a team from within the same Public Health Unit. Burford is matched against the St. George Generals and teams have been comprised of a mix of players to allow for balanced and even competition. The focus of this season is both on fun and development, allowing players to enjoy the game and improve on their skills without the pressures of team tryouts and travelling tournaments.There are two or three Burford teams in each age division and St. George adds another two making it a neat round robin for each age group. Players are getting two games a week plus practice time on ice to refine their skills and learn the new style of game.
Steve Burroughs, the Director in charge of sponsorship with the BDMHA Executive, is optimistic that this season will be one to remember. “We’ve had a good number of players return to hockey this year and we hope that those who were unable to return will remain a part of our hockey community in the future.” BDMHA has seen a percentage of players not return and have lost sponsors who are facing financial difficulties. They are reaching out to new sponsors and are offering players some assistance if finances are the only thing keeping families from registering a child in hockey. “Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to run a hockey program,” says Burroughs, “so we need support from the community to keep our costs down. The price of ice rental has gone up this year and our annual insurance costs don’t change regardless of how many players we have registered. We want to keep our registration costs one of the lowest in the Southern Counties competition so that families can have their children playing but it takes the whole community to make that happen.”
What has been the highlight of the season so far? Burroughs says it is the social and mental benefits of being involved in a sport. “It has been rewarding to see the players smiling and enjoying the game again. They’ve been through so much with school closures, social distancing and the cancellation of so many fun activities kids usually enjoy. We are working hard to keep everyone safe and improve their game, but the benefits will go well beyond the ice.”
The number of spectators at games is limited but they are other ways to support the Coyotes on and off the ice this year. Fundraising events such as bottle drives and the sale of Krispy Kreme Donuts have been happening and more are planned for the year including the annual Cash Calendar.
If anyone is interested in sponsoring a hockey team this year, please contact Steve Burroughs at email@example.com
By: Steve Burroughs