FORT FRANCES—It’s one of the longest standing traditions in Fort Frances.
For each of the past 70 years, the Knights of Columbus has sponsored a team in the Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association.
And Friday night, the most recent beneficiaries of the charitable organization’s generosity were planning a special “thank you.”
The Knights of Columbus Peewee ‘AA’ hockey team is hosting its annual tournament this weekend at the Memorial Sports Complex.
And as part of the three-day event, the team has planned a special ceremony during which it will present several members of the Knights of Columbus with a plaque thanking the organization for its continued support.
“It’s obviously been great,” coach Wayne Strachan said. “It’s a great tradition for the team. It’s been around for 70 years.”
Over the years, the KCs have helped alleviate the stress caused by the substantial costs incurred in running a minor hockey league team by donating both time and money.
“It helps out a lot with ice time costs for practices,” Strachan noted. “They also help out with jersey costs and at the end of the year, they have been putting on a little wind-up party for us.”
Strachan’s appreciation for the Knights of Columbus runs deep as he, himself, has benefited from the organization’s generosity both as a player and now as a coach.
“I had the chance to play four years for the team in PeeWee and now it’s my second year coaching,” he said. “It’s a great honour to be involved with those guys.
“They’ve stuck around for so long to help the young players out and to help them develop in their hockey careers.”
But Strachan believes the true value of the relationship between the team and its sponsor lies not in the monetary support, but in the relationships formed between the young players and the KC members.
“They interact with us at the tournaments,” he remarked. “They come watch the games and stuff like that.
“It’s good for the kids because they get to meet the guys and know who’s sponsoring them,” Strachan added. “They get to see it firsthand.”
Seventy years is a long time to support any organization, but Knights of Columbus member Paul Cousineau said the decision to sponsor a minor hockey team is an easy one.
“The main thing is that it is for the kids,” he stressed. “Every organization supports kids. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking the Kinsmen or the Lions or whatever, everybody earmarks some money for kids.
“This is one of the programs that they started and hopefully they’ll continue.”
The plaque presentation was scheduled to take place around 5:30 p.m.—just prior to the home team’s game against the Volunteer Pool Bearcats (Thunder Bay).
Eight teams, including ones from Kenora, Dryden, Thunder Bay, and Baudette, are vying for the tourney title, which will be awarded Sunday afternoon.