BY KELLY CORNFORD
I feel very compelled to write about our hometown arena of Sylvan Lake, Alberta. My family’s story starts many, many years ago when our sons were very young. My husband first was a board member with Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey and then myself, in all totaling nine years representing our minor hockey program.
Our sons grew and played in Sylvan Lake making lifetime friends for them and us. Our sons played hockey, reffed and worked at the summer hockey school. We have so many great and happy memories of that old arena.
Then in 2010 our oldest son was diagnosed with cancer. This was when I really understood what a great, caring, giving community and hockey organization we live in. During the two years that we went through treatments etc., the hockey community “our second family” (lots we knew and some we didn’t) helped us through.
The fundraisers for Chase were incredible “all done at our old gal, the arena” … at one point all the boys and many, many coaches were walking around with their heads shaved. The support was overwhelming at times. When we spent days at a time at the hospital, the hockey community took care of our younger son Kyle … feeding him, making sure he got to games cheering him on the list goes on … Then the day came when we lost Chase — he just couldn’t fight anymore.
Again the hockey community celebrated his life by doing a memorial service in his honour on the ice. All the kids Chase had ever played hockey with were there on the ice. It was very overwhelming to say the least.
Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey presented us with a beautiful memorial jersey box with Chase’s jersey in it and a picture of him included. The jersey box hangs (or should I say hung) in the arena.
That being said on Monday January 20 the first thing I saw in the morning was that the arena had collapsed — I was horrified … First for his memorial jersey still hanging in there and then for all those happy and sad memories that the arena holds between those walls. At that point I frantically called on our hockey community to find out about his memorial jersey.
They said they would do whatever they could to get it out … (at that point having no idea they would be allowed in at all). Again they came through and it, along with all the other memorabilia was saved … just one more example of the great support from the community to make things that are important happen.
The arena was and always will be home to the hockey kids of Sylvan Lake and their families. As the years pass and the kids grow and move on there will always be a new group starting to play hockey. I know my son will always be there watching over them and enjoying every moment of every smile on every boy or girl’s face that gets to play the great game of hockey that he loved so much and the community of Sylvan Lake that loved him. That is why our family believes we should win the Kraft Hockeyville this year!