MEDICINE HAT, AB - We're about three-weeks into the Gas City Ball Hockey League (GCBHL) season and President Chris Cass says things are going well so far.
"Most teams have played five or six games to this point," explained Cass. "We have the Crusaders division, which is our U-10 division. They have 6-teams in their division, all very competitive. We also have an Avengers division, which is U-12. Major-Minors, which is U-17 and U-14's combined. Blasters which is U-8's and Peanuts, which is U-6's."
Cass says although the league is running smoothly to this point, they did see their registration numbers dwindle this year.
"We've held relatively steady from last year. Now, we have 4-Peanut teams, 6-Blasters, 6-Crusaders, 6-Avengers and then 4 in Major-Minors. Ideally, we'd like to get those numbers up, but with people wanting to play different sports, it can be a little challenging at times."
In addition to other sports, Cass believes the downturn in the economy has put a damper on their number of registered players.
"It's not cheap to put your kids into any sport. Basically, for ball hockey, you're looking at about $225 for the year. It is cheaper than hockey because you only need a helmet, gloves and shinpads. It does get expensive if you're a goalie, but outside of that, it's competitive with baseball and lacrosse. We try to keep our cost down to bring in new people to the game."
From year-to-year, Cass says they seem to retain the same core of players, so they're looking into different options to bringing in new players.
Cass says they would love to work with the school divisions in the region to try and bring those numbers up.
"We need to look at the school-systems and maybe advertise there because that's our focus group. That's where the kids are that play in our league and that's important. We also need to look at some of the hockey clubs in the City."
He says they are also looking into how they can bring more girls into the league.
"We're potentially trying to grow a ladies or girls division, but it would be nice to have more girls overall. I mean, they're more comfortable and likely to join that way. I often wonder if they don't come out to play cause there's not many in the league. So, just little things to try and diversify it to everyone."
And just like any league, he says they are also looking for coaches and referees as well.
"We're always looking for people to help us out. I encourage anyone who has interest to come and check it out."
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