I, for one, am rolling the dice and risking bad luck by starting to celebrate early my belief that the Rankin Rock Hockey Camp will be announced as the winner of the Arctic Inspiration Prize (AIP) for the Youth category this evening, Jan. 31, in Ottawa.
David Clark’s vision turned reality for the camp has exceeded most expectations to prove itself a benefit to the hockey-loving youth of this community on a multitude of levels.
And this one’s a little personal for me, as I’ve long had to keep relatively quiet as I saw money being thrown at southern programs during the past 20 years for no other reason other than the outdated belief that if it’s from the south, it has to be better than what we have to offer here.
As most of my regular readers realize, I headed the Branch North officiating program for a good number of years and kept my hockey nose out of hockey matters that didn’t involve officials.
And, I can honestly say, I wish a lot of board members had followed that lead over the years and realized also that officiating matters are best left to officials.
But I digress.
I’ve written of my admiration for Clark’s hockey camp on previous occasions, and stand fast on every positive point I’ve previously mentioned concerning the camp and its programming.
The literacy component of the camp – which helps the young players realize creative thinking is, indeed, still allowed in this wonderful game of ours, and also opens their minds to the concept and value of teamwork in its purest sense – remains one of its biggest strengths, as does the component’s unique delivery.
Another strong and dividend-paying addition to the camp’s structure is its use of youth leaders.
I’ve known the majority of the youth leaders Clark has asked to help at his camp over the years, and they all share a number of things in common: a love for the game, the desire to give something back to a sport that’s given so much to them, a strong belief in the program they’re helping to deliver and a willingness to go the extra mile in helping young players develop their hockey skills and make healthy lifestyle choices.
The excitement ramps up this time, as an AIP win means taking the camp on the road and introducing almost twice as many kids to its benefits while stoking their love for playing the coolest game on ice.
The Arviat Minor Hockey Association has been moving forward during the past few years, and having an early-season visit by the Rankin Rock Hockey Camp will only help further that growth.
And while all this has been going on, Clark and Arviat’s Gleason Uppahuak have been quietly working on the development of a regional string called the Kivalliq Jr. Canucks that holds the promise of connecting all the moving parts from the atoms to the Kivalliq Canucks junior C program that so many young players in our region still strive to one day be a part of.
Something very special is happening in our region’s hockey community right now, and it’s being led by the right people at the right time, taking carefully-planned and well-thought-out baby strides towards producing results that not all that long ago would have been thought impossible.
And, when the Rankin Rock Hockey Camp’s name is called tonight, as it should be, the AIP will have helped a culturally-sensitive program, designed in the North for the youth of the North, take a very important first step towards introducing itself to other Kivalliq youth.
If another Kivalliq name is called tonight in addition to Clark, the community of Chesterfield Inlet may not hear the sweet hockey noise making its way out of Rankin, as many of those folks will be preoccupied building qajaqs.
Hopefully, that’s a topic for another day.