If you build it, they will come, and come they did to the official opening of the Gilbert Frenchy Hockey Field Saturday, Oct. 15.
The resurrection of the Church Road facility has been a joint project between the Ladysmith Kinsmen and the Winter Hawks girls’ and boys’ ball hockey team.
Field users, many whom are Stz’uminus First Nation members, say the benefits go beyond the revival of ball hockey sport.
“It’s going to benefit our health, and a lot of kids are going to get the chance to come out and play and do something other than get into trouble,” said Dylan Bell, a goalie. “Hockey is our sport.”
Darrell Tom added, “The young kids are going to be able to do stuff with the adults and the adults are going to be able to connect with the kids. We do have a lot of talent.”
Hawks captain Gilbert Frenchy Jr. got the ball rolling on the project after approaching employer Jason Kelland, a Kinsmen and owner of the Oyster Sto-lo Road A&W, for assistance in fundraising for and completing construction needed on the old field.
Frenchy said he was happy and excited to see the field opened up to the community.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement in the last month,” he said.
After Saturday’s official ribbon cutting ceremony, the Kinsmen and Winter Hawks played an inaugural game on the court before opening it up to community members. Team spirit could be felt on all sides as people of all ages took to the court. The games were followed by a community barbecue.