Hockey Alberta Player Pledge Provincial winners

May. 06, 2024

RED DEER - Three teams who participated in the 2024 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championships presented by ATB, were named winners of the Player Pledge initiative.

The U13 Tier 1 Medicine Hat Hounds, U15 Tier 3 High Prairie, and the U18 Female Tier 1 Fort McMurray Huskies were the three winners for this season and due to their commitment to the pledge, won $500 to go towards their year-end party.

As part of the Player Pledge, Hockey Alberta asked teams competing in Provincials to commit to the Player Pledge by participating in a team building activity ahead of the tournament.

The team builder activity included watching a short video followed by the coach leading the conversation about respect, inclusion and what it means to be an ally. It concluded with the ask for players to take the Player Pledge, as well as a team commitment throughout the tournament. To acknowledge the Player Pledge and commitment, each team participating in Provincials were given a magnet to hang with the pledge and space to write their commitment for motivation throughout the tournament.

“We felt it was important to partake in the pledge because as individuals it’s important to respect others and where they come from,” said Lee Sprunger, head coach of the Medicine Hat Hounds. “As hockey players, we all have different upbringings and perspectives. But if we respect others, we can make a difference in all areas of life.”

“The U18 Huskies chose to do the pledge for a few reasons,” said Melissa Seymour, Team Manager of Fort McMurray. “They wanted to recognize the team’s journey this season; it took commitment to each other to help navigate the highs and lows of the season. It was an opportunity for them to recognize and support their differences on and off the ice. The pledge reminded them to be ready to compete hard, be positive, and the importance of respecting the sport and embracing the Provincials experience.”

Seymour went on to say that the Huskies were excited for the opportunity to showcase what taking part in the pledge meant to the players on the team.

“From the moment they loaded the bus the excitement was obvious. They knew this was the experience they had been working for,” she said. “Their hard work had paid off and they each had a role to play in that success. Representing Fort McMurray at Provincials offered a sense of belonging, to their home community and the female hockey community. The weekend was all about them, their hard work, their skills, their sportsmanship. It also demonstrated to our younger Huskies teams this experience is possible for them too.”

High Prairie Team Manager Teneaka Laboucan said it was important for their team to participate so they could show people the way hockey should be played.

“Play hockey for the way hockey is to be played. Respect the other team’s players, coaches, and parents by encouraging my teammates with positive attitudes and behaviours,” they said. “Respect the on-ice officials and the calls they make so long as they are respectful and providing fair treatment. Take action in preventing and intervening in any maltreatment even if it isn’t being to shown towards us.”

Sprunger said it’s important to start the conversation to ensure that people know hockey can be a safe and inclusive game.

“This goes back to why we chose to participate in the pledge in the first place,” he said. “If we approach any situation with respect, we can have a positive impact on not only our lives, but the people around us as well.”

Seymour said that starting the conversation needs to continue past Provincials and become something that’s happening on a regular basis.

“Starting the conversation on inclusive and respectful hockey is important not only at special events but year long,” Seymour said. “Sports are an excellent medium for teaching life skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership. Understanding and valuing diversity can help develop more well-rounded individuals. Creating and supporting a safe hockey environment encourages ongoing participation and enjoyment of the sport.”

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