Morinville Mavericks offer alternative hockey program

by Stephen Dafoe

The Morinville Mavericks Hockey program, affiliated with Fun Team Alberta, is an organization that offers an opportunity to play sports complementary to other organized hockey leagues.

Kimberley Wood is the Manager of the Morinville Mavericks Fun Team Hockey. Wood and her husband, Jayson, are taking over the program’s reins from the Town of Morinville this year, and the couple is looking to grow the hockey alternative.

“We want to let kids and families know there is another local hockey program out there if they have kids that want to play but don’t want the competitiveness of traditional hockey leagues,” Wood said. “It is a place for those who do not want to participate in a competitive sport or who may have had negative experiences from competitive environments.”

Wood said players would develop important social and physical skills in a positive learning environment in the Mavericks program. The team model is designed to allow players to develop at their own pace and ability as skills develop.

The Woods became involved when their son still wanted to play hockey but found his previous league did not fit with the time commitment and attention he had for the sport.

“We had previously coached our son for three years and had intended to take a year off and see what the program was about,” Wood explained. “At the first practice, no coaches showed up to coach the program, so what do you do? Jayson jumped on the ice, ran the next two practices and thus initiated himself into the head coach role of the junior team. Our son found a place to continue playing the sport he enjoyed at his own pace.”

The couple became more involved last year as they saw the program’s potential for their family and the community.

Three teams scheduled this year

The programs will run on Saturdays from October to March at a cost of $200 per player for the season. The Woods are looking to offer at least three teams this year. An initiation-skilled group will run at 8 a.m. The Juniors at 9 a.m., and Seniors will run at 10 a.m.

“If guidelines allow, we will look at setting up games with other Fun Teams in the New Year,” Wood said. “Kids love this aspect of the program, a chance to show off their skills and enjoy some fun competitiveness.”

COVID-19 Protocols

Wood said the Mavericks would be following all Alberta Health Return to Play guidelines and Public Health Orders.

“Players will be expected to come to practice fully dressed in equipment, and we will have a volunteer to help navigate players where to go,” she said. “Team numbers will stay low and be considered a cohort together. Families wishing to watch will comply with all facility protocols for spectating and physical distancing.”

The Woods are hoping families will come try the Mavericks out.

“We know, if you don’t start a sport young, programs often seem intimidating and uninviting to players without skills,” wood explained. “We aim to offer an inviting atmosphere to players of all ages and skills to enjoy learning the sport of hockey.”

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