Expectations are running high within the Rankin Inlet hockey community for when the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) is announced for the Youth category this evening, Jan. 31, in Ottawa.
The Rankin recreation co-ordinator David Clark-led Rankin Rock Hockey Camp is a finalist in the AIP Youth category – the category can award up to $100,000 for up to seven teams – and there is a strong sense in the hockey community that the well-deserved camp is a lock for this year’s prize.
Clark left Rankin for Ottawa this past Thursday, arriving a few days early so he could catch some of the action and help with the Rankin Wolves players competing in a futsal tournament in the capital city before setting his focus on the AIP Youth category.
The final two days before the awards were busy ones for Clark, who has his sights set on using the prize money to expand the camp and take it outside of Rankin for the first time.
And, with the logistics of having three communities involved with the next camp, Clark won’t be long putting the prize money to work if, or, just as possibly, when, he hears his name called on the 31st.
“My plans for the upcoming camps are firmly in place because of the way the whole AIP application process works, and the way they go about getting to know what you plan do to with the prize money when you win,” said Clark.
“It’s a highly-intense and structured system because if you do win money, they want to know exactly where it’s going and what it’s going to be used for.
“So, my plan is already in place because it had to be in order to apply to this process.”
Clark would not comment on the prevailing feeling in his home community that the Rankin Rock Hockey Camp is a winner.
He did say, however, the camp was already a winner by making the short list, so he may as well approach the ceremony with confidence.
“Since we’re branching out and going into two additional communities I want to bring an officiating element to the camp, especially in smaller communities.
“That’s something we’re looking at integrating into the smaller communities and also getting local midget-aged kids in each community involved with the camp.
“I know a lot of the region’s players through both the Junior Canucks and Kivalliq Canucks programs, so I already have a few kids in mind who I will ask to help when the camp is in their community.
“The hockey world is small and I try to treat people as nicely as I can off the ice – on the ice it can be a little hard at times – so I have a lot of good friendships across the region, and I like to get as many local people involved as possible, so working with my friends in their community will also be a highlight for me.”
Clark said taking the camp on the road is, basically, step one in its expansion.
He said, thinking positively, he’s already identified the first two communities he plans to bring the Rankin Rock Hockey Camp to.
“We have scheduled dates for Arviat and Baker Lake, so they’ll be the first two communities our money comes into.
“We’re also going to try to add a really big nutrition element and, maybe, get some special meals prepared for the kids so they can see just how much better they do feel when they’re eating healthy.
“We’re going to look into different ways to have healthy eating make more of an impact, so we may decide to make the whole week one of nothing but healthy eating.
“Adding officials to the camp is really important to me because you don’t have hockey unless you have officials, and we can make another lasting impact on the communities by leaving them with certified officials at the end of the camp.”
Clark said the Kivalliq’s hockey culture is unreal, especially during the tournament months of January through April.
He said having every kid on the ice who wants to play hockey remains a top priority with hockey leaders in the region.
“Hockey is in our Kivalliq DNA and we want the game to be as accessible as it can possibly be.
“We’re not going to charge anything for the kids to attend camp, and we run a unique program that focuses on not only making better hockey players, but better people in general, both on and off the ice.
“We’ll be bringing our youth leaders to Arviat and Baker Lake because they’re the backbone of the camp.
“We have a good group of guys who are really dedicated to the camp, and who are excited about going on the road and meeting new kids eager to improve both their hockey and life skills.”