Between curling leagues, minor hockey and school sanctioned teams lies a plethora of alternative sports and recreation opportunities for Ponoka residents of every age; adult and youth hockey and volleyball are just a few of those options.
Ponoka Recreation Hockey Association
The Ponoka Recreation Hockey Association offers a less competitive hockey circuit for players between the ages of five and 18.
“It’s just basically for people who want to play the game, learn the game, without an overly committed lifestyle,” said Brandon Bishop, coach of the eight to 10 years old team.
Bishop says the recreation hockey is good for busy or single parent families because it’s structured, with regular practices so a parent will always know where their child is at that point during the week, yet practices and games aren’t mandatory for those times when life gets too busy.
Along with games, the players also practice skills and drills. “The staff grow with the kids, we have a lot of committed parents,” said Bishop.
He feels the skaters benefit from the parent involvement, as many of them are skaters and hockey players themselves and teach the youths their own specialized skills or talents for the game.
The low cost of playing recreation hockey is another difference from minor hockey. Playing only local games in Rimbey, Bentley, Sylvan Lake and Winfield helps keep the costs down.
Bishop says the no-contact league has been around for the last 10 to 12 years and with each season it continues to grow. Four age-based teams make up the league and there are approximately 20 players on each team. “We don’t have a cap. It’s open to any amount of kids who want to play.”
“It just seems to be growing more and more every year because of the flexibility that we are,” Bishop added.
The recreation teams are also co-ed right through the league, which Bishop feels benefits the players. “You’re not pigeon-holed once you reach a certain age.”
He feels playing on a co-ed team is a good confidence booster, especially for the girls. Bishop says throughout their life, girls interact with boys in a number of ways, both positive and negative, and hockey is not different. “They can handle themselves in on and off ice situations.”
“Sportsmanship is a very big thing on our end,” he added. “It’s a really good growing opportunity.”
Recreational hockey isn’t being left to the minors, as Monday nights are game night for the Crestomere Clippers.
“It’s a chance for the older dudes to get out and get out and get some exercise,” said team member Ron Labrie.
The games take a yearly fee or pay-as-you-go route and are less rough than other hockey leagues. “It’s kind of a gentlemen’s hockey,” said Labrie.
Every regular hockey rule applies, slap shots are allowed but body contact is not. In the name of fun, Labrie says sometimes that rule is glossed over.
“The feeling of camaraderie and socializing is as important as the games,” he added.
Drop In Volleyball
On a weekly basis, adults can gather at Mecca Glen School to shake off the day and socialize with some friendly games of drop in volleyball.
“It’s enough competition to make those who are competitive have fun, but not so competitive that people are going to feel bad about their skill level,” said an organizer, Monica Harvey, referring to the Tuesday night event running from 7:30 to 9:30.
The drop-in program has run for close to 30 years and was previously held at gym in what was the Diamond Willow Middle School. With the building renovations this year and no gym time available, the program had to move to Mecca Glen.
“I think it allows flexibility. It allows you to fit recreation into your daily schedule,” said Harvey.
“If you like the sport and you want to play you’re welcome,” she added.