Playing by the “bid” book

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Lorne Eckersley

Lorne Eckersley

During the many hours I spent at the recent Cyclone Taylor Cup hockey games I had a number of brief conversations with Mike Moore, who is nearly as passionate about the Creston Valley Thunder Cats as he is about his career as a fire chief. During those chats, he occasionally referred to “the playbook”, the Bid Book he created to make Creston’s proposal to host the provincial Junior B hockey championships.

I asked Moore to send me a digital copy, and he acceded, co-operative as he always is. And I was pleased to have the chance to get a clear understanding, not only of what it takes to sell a community’s ability to host a large event, but of the huge effort it takes to do it so well.

The book begins with letters of support from Mayor Ron Toyota and RDCK Creston Valley Services Committee chair Larry Binks because without local political support, these sorts of events simply don’t, or at least rarely do, happen. Nearly 80 pages it gets down to describing the Creston & District Community Complex and its arena, which seats 941 and offers seven dressing rooms and a referee room.

I particularly like the Bid Book’s stated Vision: “To host a provincial BC Amateur Hockey Junior B championship that will provide lifelong memories for all the participants and fans, and in doing so help foster growth in Junior B Hockey both locally and within the province.”

Following that are goals, all worthy, that include:

• To promote competitive sportsmanship on a provincial level while promoting fair play and respect for the sport of hockey,

• To foster a cultural exchange amongst athletes and fans from around the province,

• To bring provincial attention to the community and showcase the Creston Valley,

• To host the Cyclone Taylor Cup in a fiscally responsible manner,

• To use effective, open communication and collaboration amongst all parties to work together towards a memorable sporting event, and

• To provide a legacy for the Creston Valley in providing the community with a premier junior hockey sporting event that assisted in providing under privileged children the opportunity play hockey.

Keep in mind that many junior hockey teams, at the Major, A and B levels, are privately owned enterprises, and yet somehow Creston has found a niche in the KIJHL as a community owned team operated by a board of volunteer directors who work their tails off to put a good team on the ice while somehow also paying the bills that roll in at an astonishing rate.

“The Creston Valley Junior Hockey Society has worked diligently over the past 16 years to provide for entertaining and competitive hockey. This has built grassroots support to the junior hockey team that makes it truly a ‘community team’.”

The document includes descriptions of the Creston Valley and promotional photos from the Chamber of Commerce. It thrills me to read through those pages and think about how much better we are at presenting ourselves today than we were even a decade ago. More tireless work, much of it by volunteers, and further proof that we have grown into a community that understands, values and appreciates its assets.

I also enjoyed reading about the history of junior hockey in Creston, which dates back to the Creston Clippers, who were a big topic of coffee shop conversation when we came here in 1979. The team folded in 1985 after nine seasons and we were without a junior team until 1992, when the Creston Thunder became part of the Rockey Mountain Junior Hockey League, a Junior A organization. By the 1998-1999 season the league had dropped to four teams, which played interleague games with the America West Hockey League. Travel costs were unsustainable and again the team stopped play in 1999-2000. That hiatus lasted only a year, though, and the Creston Valley Thunder Cats came to life in the KIHJL.

As we look back to an extraordinarily successful Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament, we can take great pride in every aspect, from the Thunder Cats’ bronze medal performance to the volunteers who stepped forward to help out in the four-day event. Mostly, though, the credit goes to Mike Moore and his board of directors, who worked so well with a superb coaching staff to first get the go ahead to host the games, and then to carry out the vision described in that most excellent Bid Book.