In the last 25 years or so I have been involved in a lot of committees either as a volunteer or having been recruited to give a hand in one way or another.
I have enjoyed my time in almost all of the ventures I have lent my name, but this last one was truly memorable largely because of the people that I was associated with.
When Bob Smisko asked me last summer if I would be able to help out with the host committee for the 2014 Western Canadian Regional Midget AAA championship I at first balked at the idea thinking my plate was way too full to be able to put in the time necessary to do a good job.
I attended a breakfast meeting just to see where things were at and I immediately reconsidered because of the people who were involved in bringing this major sporting event to Prince Albert.
Joe Bexon and Smisko were the co-chairs, and while I knew Bob a bit, I had very little experience working with Joe. After that initial meeting I felt very comfortable in putting my name beside those two and from there the process of getting the event organized took place.
Chief among the reasons for being a part of this project, aside from meeting the great group on the board, was to help the Prince Albert Mintos as they were guaranteed a spot in the championship as the host team.
Since returning to the media I have spent an incredible amount of time writing about the team and for the most part I think what I have put on paper has been appreciated. I know compared to other teams in the city they are very diligent in providing information and from a reporter’s point of view when you have that kind of a relationship you want to maintain it.
As the work progressed in getting the tournament together I became enamoured with the fact that not all of the proceeds were going just to the Mintos. Junior Diabetes has been a major beneficiary of the Mintos for a number of years as has minor hockey in Prince Albert. When the committee decided to split any profits equally between the Mintos, Junior Diabetes and minor hockey it became more and more obvious that I was doing the right thing.
Putting on an event such as the Western Regionals needs a lot of support from the community, both the general public and from local businesses. I wish I could name all of the sponsors and volunteers by name, but that would take up a whole page and I would definitely miss someone so for this space I will just say thanks to everyone for their support and hope they pick up on the sincerity in that statement.
It always amazes me how this community bands together to show their support and this event was definitely the beneficiary of a lot of generosity.
While the majority of the planning went on without a hitch, there were roadblocks. Not long before the championship was to be held, the Mintos’ president and one of the main pushes for hosting the event, Zenon Markowsky, suffered a major stroke. Again, the dedication of the host committee shone through as everyone rallied around Zenon to take care of his list of outstanding responsibilities so that he could concentrate on getting better.
Then, less than a week before the event was to start it was discovered that both the entertainment and keynote speaker were unavailable for various reasons. Rather than panic the committee went about and secured other sources to fill those roles and both replacements did exceptional jobs on such short notice.
Aside from writing a number of media releases and getting the word out to the public about the event, I took on a number of other roles during the championship with the most gratifying being part of a sub-committee that selected a scholarship winner for academic and athletic achievement.
When I put my name forward I thought it would be fun to read a couple of essays, talk to a couple of players and then pick out the one that stands apart from the rest and give them the scholarship.
It didn’t turn out that way.
When Les Karpluk, Mike Mazurak and myself finished with the first of our eight interviews of players who put their name forward, we thought OK, that was easy; this one is going to be hard to beat. Well, nothing against any of the candidates, but it just got more and more difficult with each subsequent interview. Finally, we agreed on one of the eight to win the award, but we also put forth a recommendation for the host committee to sponsor another scholarship as these eight young men were all fantastic. We would have gladly given each one an award, but even picking just two out of the eight was a difficult process.
The Mintos winning the championship was definitely icing on the cake and while the crowds who attended the event weren’t as big as I had hoped for, those who did take in the four days of action were treated to a first-rate experience.
It is because of the following people that Prince Albert is once again on the map for staging a premiere event and I am so proud and honoured to have worked beside each and every one of them. The host committee included: Joe Bexon, Bob Smisko, Mel Kelley, Andy Kozun, Merle Kozun, James Mays, Les and Cathy Karpluk, Chris Hudon, Chris Thompson, Don Fauchoux, Jody Boulet, Mike Mazurak, Perry Hulowski, Rick Willie, Zenon Markowsky, Kevin Mugford, Dwight Stahl, Dale Peet and Carrie McCoshen.
Take a bow everyone. It is because of your hard work that the Mintos, Junior Diabetes and minor hockey will all receive a nice chunk of change and it has also given the Mintos a chance to win a third national championship. Now that would just tidy things up rather nicely.
Dave Leaderhouse is a reporter with the Prince Albert Daily Herald.