The Columbia Valley Rockies season finished barely a week ago, but the team is already looking ahead to next year as they get ready to co-host a training camp along with the Junior A South Surrey Eagles at the end of April.
The camp will be here in Invermere on April 25th through April 27th. Last year a similar camp was co-hosted with the Junior A Chilliwack Chiefs.
“We actually had some players (from the Rockies) playing with South Surrey last year, so partnering with South Surrey for the camp just works out. We didn’t actually get any of our players up to play in Chilliwack last year and for us, that what it’s about, getting players moving forward,” said Rockies general manager Ross Bidinger, adding two South Surrey coaches (one of them who used to play in Invermere) will be at the camp.
Last year’s camp attracted 130 kids and this year’s will probably draw a similar number, according to Mr. Bidinger, although he added that many players can be hard to choose from.
“It’s just difficult to get a good look at each player when you have that many,” he said.
The import limit for out-of-province players was changed in the B.C’s Junior A league this year, and Mr. Bidinger is hopeful a similar change will be coming soon in Junior B.
“That may change at our level; that’s what we’re hoping, because it makes it easier for us,” he said. “A kid from, say, Kamloops who wants to play Junior B, if he’s going to come out to look at playing on our team, he’s going to drive past five or six other towns that have teams he could play for before he gets out here to Invermere. You couldn’t get any further to come out here.”
“The other teams get an unfair advantage in this when it comes to recruiting,” he added. “But if a kid is coming from Calgary, all of a sudden we’re the closest team.”
Currently each team is only allowed eight out-of-province players in Junior B. In Junior A, with the limitations gone, a whole team can be from anywhere in Canada.
The Rockies almost always have the maximum number of import players each year and if the rules change, the team will certainly have more, said Mr. Bidinger.
Players who move from Alberta to British Columbia to play Junior B, for instance, are considered an out-of-province player for their first year playing in B.C. If those players choose to remain in B.C., they are not considered import players in subsequent years.
Playing Junior B in B.C. is more appealing than playing Junior B in Alberta, because the Junior B leagues here mirror most Junior A leagues in Canada much more closely than do Alberta’s Junior B leagues, according to Mr. Bidinger.
“In Alberta (in Junior B) the teams practice only twice a week, there are no fitness instructors, there are fewer games a season and they only play games on weekends,” he said. “We’re a better training ground for (the players).”
The Rockies are looking for looking coaches to volunteer with helping to evaluate the players at the camp. Those interested should contact Mr. Bidinger.