CARSTAIRS – The number of players registering to play in the local minor hockey program has steadily increased over the past couple of years, the organization’s president said.
“We have lots of new kids that come every year,” said Robbi Spady, president of the Carstairs Minor Hockey Association.
There were about 110 players in 2021, and with registration for the 2023-24 season now wrapped up, there are 138 kids signed up, said Spady.
“We are a growing program,” she said.
The association was as of last week already undergoing evaluations such as skill sessions to determine where best to place the players based on their ability, but the registration period had passed, she said.
“We’ve closed our programs as far as registration goes just because we’ve started our evaluation process and we have reached a capacity for our programs just with the amount of ice that the town has available for us,” she said.
“So, we can’t really take too many more kids.”
Once those evaluations wrapped up, the association anticipated being able to field 10 teams: four at the U7 level as well as three in both the U9 and U11 levels, she said.
The U7s play in a local house league known as The 2 and 27 – a reference of Highways 2 and 27 that roughly represents where players come from – and they face off against squads from Crossfield, Cremona, Sundre, Olds, and Didsbury. The U9 and U11 teams play in the Central Alberta Hockey League, she said.
While the Carstairs Minor Hockey Association runs programs only for the U7s to the U11s, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Association – which fields team rosters with players from Carstairs, Crossfield and Didsbury – accommodates U13, U15 and U18, she said.
“Once kids move into U13, we kind of pool them all from the three towns to build one evaluation program,” she said, adding RMAA has nine teams – three in each age level.
Meanwhile, Carstairs minor hockey has more than 25 coaches, which puts the association in a good position.
“Right now, we’ve had a good response this year to our coaching ask,” she told the Albertan.
That being said, she added the association is always receptive to welcoming new volunteers who are interested in getting involved.
“We like to make sure we have a good bulk of people helping out any way they can so we get more one-on-one time with each of the kids,” she said.
Practices were scheduled to get started this week following the end of last week’s evaluations that are intended to provide a more level playing field, she said.
So although teams had not yet officially been formed as of last week when she was interviewed, the association knew based on the number of registered players and their ages that there would be enough to field the 10 teams, she said.
As of today – Tuesday, Sept. 26 – she said all of the players would be assigned a team with regular practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays getting started, with games expected to be underway by mid- to late-October.