If theres something unique about the Columbia Valley Rockies, its that their fundraising is nearly unrivalled across the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Before the puck even drops on the season before training camp even opens its doors to incoming players the Rockies as an organization are making the diligent effort to raise the money required to support a Junior B team in the KIJHL, said team president Graeme Anderson.
We do more fundraising than most teams, he said. If you look at our division, Golden is in a similar position as ourselves, but outside of that Fernie, Kimberley and Creston are all larger communities with larger arenas and have gate revenues that are high. Unless we packed the Eddie to the rafters every night, which may happen occasionally, gate revenue is not enough to sustain a junior team.
Instead, the Rockies start out their season officially in April with fundraising through an adult recreational hockey tournament which is closely followed by the annual classic car raffle. Last year, the Rockies raffled off an old Jeep and next year will give away a 1978 Corvette to a lucky winner. Some of their other fundraisers include their annual Spring Camp where they bring in over 120 junior hockey prospects who showcase their talents for both the Rockies and the BCHL Langley Rivermen, and their annual golf tournament held at Copper Point Golf Course on the opening weekend of the season.
The Rockies are also fondly remembered among the community for their Bullriding in the Rockies fundraiser held in the middle of July in addition to the BC Pond Hockey Championship and the wood pile sales made each year.
Mr. Anderson said that, from a financial standpoint, the wood pile serves as the most successful fundraiser the team operates, raising enough money each year to offset the cost of the teams bus, which they purchased less than a year ago.
Up until this year, Ray Brydon had been overseeing and organizing the wood pile operations along with a group of other retired volunteers. Mr. Brydon, who sadly passed away earlier this year, would organize the purchasing, splitting and delivery of the wood to peoples homes. Mr. Anderson said that although Rockies GM Ross Bidinger has tried to pick up where Mr. Dryden left off, his shoes were not easy to fill.
To be honest, we struggled there for a while after Ray passed because he did such a good job of it, Mr. Anderson said.
While the Rockies may have to fundraise more than other teams, Mr. Anderson said he views it as a positive addition to the community as it fosters a union between the hockey club and the community.
A lot of the advertisers with the team advertise not because they need to advertise but because they want to support the team, he said, noting that he and his wife Nolene have made a concerted effort at getting the Rockies to unite with the community again. We wanted to make the valley fall back in love with its team again because they werent getting supported; they werent getting fans out.
In the end, Mr. Anderson said hes just trying to improve the Rockies wherever he can so he can give the community a safe and fun place to go on a Saturday night for entertainment.
Theres an excitement there, a desire to come out and watch the team, a desire to help and when that happens, you have a lot more volunteers who come forward and they get excited about it because its a fun thing to be around, he said.
To learn more about the Rockies, visit their website at www.rockieshockey.ca.