From the rolling green hills of Northern Ireland to the frigid cold atmosphere of Canadian hockey rinks, its been an interesting journey for Graeme and Noelene Anderson who recently were awarded volunteers of the year for Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Area F.
Its been a decade since the Anderson family arrived here in the Columbia Valley in 2006. New to the area, it was their son Luke who brought the family into the hockey scene, signing up in the Windermere Valley Minor Hockey Association. It was at that time that they discovered the Rockies were looking for billet hosts for the teams hockey players.
Within half a day, we had two of them in our basement, Mr. Anderson said.
From there, the newly arrived family immersed themselves in the local hockey team, learning how it was being operated by a very small amount of people. After discovering that, all the while seeing a lack of audience, he said both he and Noelene decided to help out in any way they could to try and promote the team across the community.
It became more social life, he said. The arena was the place to go if there was a hockey game on. We just felt that the kids that were playing here deserved a lot more recognition and someone had to step up and make that happen.
The two put hours of work into overhauling and essentially creating a social media presence for the team on Twitter and Facebook while revamping the website to become much more user friendly. Before long, in 2012, Grame was promoted as the vice-president of hockey operations while Noelene became the director of marketing and social media.
Much of their work has gone into promoting the team throughout the community and creating their numerous fundraisers such as the BC Pond Hockey Championship. Today, Graeme resides as the president of hockey operations, going into his second season in the position.
He said he and Noelene were shocked when they heard that their efforts were going to be recognized in being nominated the volunteers of the year.
It shows that people are recognizing the hockey team as part of the community because 90 per cent of the volunteering we do is through the hockey team, he said, noting that there is a lot of work ahead in the upcoming season to keep the Rockies a successful hockey club.
Its not just us. Theres a large group of volunteers past and present that do a lot of work. A junior hockey team cant happen with just a few people. It needs a lot of people to put in quite a bit of time and effort to make it happen.