WESTLOCK – Dozens of young hockey players descended upon Westlock for the U7 Westlock Warriors Timbits Tournament Jan.7 at the Rotary Spirit Centre.
The annual event brings together players and teams from across the region including Athabasca, Spruce Grove, Morinville and Wabasca, as well as three U7 teams of 31 players from Westlock ages four to six.
“We have 12 teams (in the tournament), nine visiting teams and three of our own and we’ve got an all-female Spruce Grove team here today,” said tournament coordinator, Chyan Brand, noting a range of teams with all skill levels, but pointed out the purpose of the event is about having fun, sportsmanship, and enjoying some physical exercise.
“We try our best to base these games and pool the children based on age and skill ability but really, it’s a day of fun,” she said, noting the young ages. “We are here to move our body, to interact with others and have fun playing the game of hockey.”
After each game, coaches presented an MVP award and a heart and hustle award to a player and also teach about cooperation and team sportsmanship, that included a handshake lineup with the opposing team. The day-long event is also an important fundraiser for the U7 teams, noted Brand, adding that Westlock Minor Hockey holds just two home tournaments every year — for U7 and U18 teams.
“It is a nice fundraiser for our U7 teams. We use the money that we make off of the raffle table and the 50/50 draw to pay for tournaments that we’re going into in the new year as well as team apparel,” explained Brand.
Both the tournament and the season receive much support from Westlock families, sponsors, including the town, and minor hockey coaches and managers.
“They’ve (players) worked hard since October until now with two practices a week, so this tournament is something they look forward to,” said Brand.