By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – With the Morinville Jets fall camp just a month away, the club will be keeping its eyes open for those players who will give the Jets a successful season. But one local financial institution is looking to ready some of those players for a successful future outside of hockey.
Servus Credit Union in downtown Morinville has just made a three-year commitment to provide two annual $500 scholarships to Morinville Jets players, an award that will begin retroactively with the 2009-2010 season.
“If we’re going to do something … let’s have some continuity,” said Branch Manager Kevin Wunsch of the credit union’s three-year commitment. “Let’s have some traction to it because if you just do it once, then you don’t know the impact.”
Wunsch said to qualify for the scholarship the player must be signed with the Morinville Jets and provide confirmation that they are in a post secondary education or trade program. Additionally, the player should provide a list of volunteer activities and community involvement, something that Wunsch said is important to the credit union.
The branch manager explained that as the financial institution has grown from 25 branches centered around the Edmonton area to 100 across the province over the past number of years, community investment has become of greater and greater importance to the organization.
“When we looked at community investment we wanted to make sure that each branch in our locations had input into how we wanted to support our local communities,” Wunsch said. “For the Morinville area, when I looked at our corporate guidelines, I found some real good fits with youth, education and children. Those are the three things that are most important to me this year. And looking at the Jets organization – I think it fits education criteria and it fits youth very, very well. So it fits two of my three main objectives.”
But in addition to giving the Morinville Jets players some financial support over the next couple of years, Wunsch has been giving the team his fan support for the past couple of seasons, regularly attending the club’s home games.
“The last two seasons we’ve been able to attend a lot of the hockey games and we’ve seen how the team has progressed,” he said, adding that the young, energetic team works hard and provides entertaining hockey. “As a fan, I want to be entertained and I want the team to work hard. And if you do those two things, I’m happy as a fan.”
But while Wunsch is happy with what he sees in the Jets, Jets’ Director of Player Personnel Roland Blackburn couldn’t be happier with the scholarship program, something he said he and Wunsch have been working on for some time.
“It gives us that extra tool in our toolbox to attract talented hockey players,” he said. “I think what it does for the players – it gives them a reason to come here other than just the hockey. I think it also gives them a sense that they’re getting support for what their aspirations are and what their goals are, and that the Jets are prepared to help these young men be successful. I think that’s how the players look at it.”