Last month, Huntsville hosted it’s first official Hockey Canada event, the Women’s U18 National Championships. While the tournament was undoubtedly a success for many of the players, coaches and spectators, it also provided Huntsville with the opportunity to showcase itself as a site for more Hockey Canada events in the future. By all accounts, that audition couldn’t have gone any better.
“I think that for a community like Huntsville, that is so used to hosting so many events and having people come from literally all over the world, we have gotten pretty good at this business,” said Mayor Scott Aitchison. “And I wanted to report to you that Hockey Canada is officially in love with Huntsville.”
The sentiment was closely echoed by Fran Ryder, President of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, who assisted Huntsville with the process of bringing the tournament to town after a failed bid in 2013.
“All the provinces sent their congratulations and really wanted us to pass along the utmost thanks to everyone in this community for the warmth and hospitality you gave them,” said the OWHA President. “Hopefully this community will see a lot more events coming here, because that warmth is second to none. Hockey Canada certainly recognized that, we recognized that, and so did everybody in this country. You are great leaders.”
Despite the many influential members who made the logistics of the event possible, it was truly the volunteers that turned the week into such a success. The group was recognized by the U18 Host Welcoming Committee last Monday, who gave back to the volunteers with a celebration party held at the Active Living Centre.
Hundreds of Muskokans spent thousands of hours cooking meals, driving shuttles and doing laundry, among countless other duties, to ensure that the town’s first audition with Hockey Canada was nothing short of spectacular.
“These people were amazing. Once the tournament started, everyone showed up and we had the most professional volunteer base you could ask for,” said Lindsay Fetterley-Coles, Volunteer Chair of the Committee and previously Sport Council Coordinator with the Town. “We had an excellent team and as soon as it started it was a cakewalk.”
“You, the volunteers, put Huntsville on Hockey Canada’s map,” added Mayor Aitchison during the party. “You represented Huntsville in a way that no politician, no staff person, could ever do.”
While the tournament may be over, talk of hosting another nationally televised hockey event here in the near future has already begun. Host Committee Chair Wendy McConnell hinted that other tournaments might be on their way sooner rather than later.
“Hockey Canada has requested Huntsville bid on quite a few more events coming up,” said McConnell. “I don’t know whether I’m letting the cat out of the bag, but we are in preliminary talks with hosting the Telus Cup.”
“They were floored at how well we did and coming from such a small town,” added Fetterley-Coles. “They said that even before we went to Calgary for the event training that we were ahead of the game of any other organizing committee they had worked with. They were overwhelmed.”
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