By Lawrence Loiseau
With their final practice on Dec. 12, the First Shift program was a victory for everyone involved.
A joint venture between Hockey Canada, Bauer and Canadian Tire, First Shift is a six-week program designed to give youth, whose families may not be able to have their children play hockey, get an opportunity to play Canada’s favourite winter sport.
First Shift is open to six- to 10-year olds, offers a full set of equipment (including brand new skates) and six practice sessions for $200.
To be eligible to register, players cannot have played minor hockey before the program.
Roger Bissat, coach co-ordinator of BC Minor Hockey in 100 Mile House and Bill Forman, representative Co-ordinator of BC Minor Hockey in 100 Mile House, were extremely pleased with First Shift.
They, along with many other volunteer coaches (many of them Wranglers), worked hard every Monday to coach the young players.
“It’s the best program we’ve ever seen. We signed up 31 participants in the end. It’s designed just for small communities like 100 Mile,” say Forman.
Bissat notes the coaches noticed a huge difference in attitude in the young players.
“We noticed a great boost in confidence. Some kids in the beginning said they couldn’t even do it.”
He adds there was remarkable progression in skills, too.
“They started skating quickly. There was improvement especially in co-ordination and balance.”
The coaches were also provided new gear – a jacket, pants, gloves, and helmet for participating in First Shift.
Both Forman and Bissat expressed enormous appreciation to on-ice assistants Ian Kormish, Mark Bissat and Devan Forman. They also thanked all the Wranglers who helped coach: Brevin Gervais, Kolby Page, Clay Stephenson, Nick Nordstrom, Kevin Fillier, Travis Gook, Garrett Hilton and Liam and Frazer Dodd.
However, their biggest praise went out to office administrator of BC Minor Hockey in 100 Mile House, Kirsti Toews.
“We would like to thank Kirsti Toews most of all for her work. She’s the one who set the whole thing up. She sent in all the applications, everything,” says Bissat.
First Shift is expected to return, so watch out for next year’s summer enrolment.