From now on, teams in Hay River Minor Hockey will not have to worry about pinnies to divide the players into separate sides for scrimmage games during practice.
Instead of pinnies – vests that can be worn over jerseys of various colours – all minor hockey players now have reversible practice jerseys thanks to a recent donation from a Hay River business.
About 225 of the practice jerseys – white and blue – were presented earlier this month by Hay River Home Hardware.
Wayne Korotash, the co-owner of Home Hardware, said it was a significant donation for the business.
“It was the first time that we had gone to a sponsorship of this amount,” he said, noting the business would previously donate things like fundraising prizes during tournaments. “We would always donate for that and odd little things here and there when they needed it, but nothing of this amount or this significance.”
Korotash said he and his wife, Melissa Hofmann, who co-owns Hay River Home Hardware, have always been big believers in making sure that they give back to the community.
“And we figured this was a great way to do it,” he said. “The kids needed some practice jerseys instead of wearing their tournament jerseys. Everything kind of fell into place, and we’re always big on giving to kids’ organizations.”
Korotash declined to say how much the donation cost Hay River Home Hardware.
Pennie Pokiak, the president of Hay River Minor Hockey, is very pleased about the donation of the practice jerseys.
“That was unique in the sense that it was for the entire association,” she said. “Each division has a sponsor and our sponsors do purchase new jerseys when required for that specific division, but never for the entire association. So since I’ve been involved in minor hockey, which has been probably 12 years, we’ve never received a sponsorship like that. So this is pretty exciting for us.”
Pokiak said a practice jersey went to every single young player in all divisions – initiation, novice, atom, peewee, bantam and midget.
“We’ve never had practice jerseys, and typically if we want to play a game when we’re on the ice within a group we would just put pinnies on,” she noted.
Pokiak explained that one advantage of having the practice jerseys is that they will save the game jerseys for tournaments.
“What was happening is some kids were starting to wear the game jerseys in just normal practices, and we didn’t want that happening because the reason why we only wear our game jerseys for tournaments or games is we want them to last as long as they can,” she said, noting the game jerseys come in light and dark colours.
“They’re expensive and we try to make them last four to six years for a set,” she added. “So we kind of frown upon our kids using them just in normal everyday practice.”
Kirsten Fischer, the director of the peewee division with Hay River Minor Hockey, also appreciates the donation of the practice jerseys.
“The kids love it,” Fischer said. “They were very happy. So we gave them out on Tuesday (Jan. 12). They were really excited.”
Korotash noted that the players will own the practice jerseys.
“We bought them for the kids. So they own them,” he said. “So when they’re done, if they decide not to play hockey anymore, they keep them, or they’ll grow into the next level.”
Korotash, who himself played minor hockey in Hay River, said Home Hardware will probably make an annual donation of practice jerseys.
“It is definitely something that Melissa and I are talking about,” he said. “Now that the biggest core of kids have got the jerseys, it will be easier and not as expensive to get for the new kids that are coming into initiation next year and if some of them outgrow them.”