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The Rusty Blades Oldtimers Hockey Club has made a significant donation to support young athletes from Hay River attending next month’s Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse.

The club has paid the registration fee of every athlete from Hay River.

“Every athlete that makes the Arctic Winter Games has to pay a $350 registration fee,” said Jeff Boyce, president of the Rusty Blades Oldtimers Hockey Club. “So there were 25 kids in Hay River that made various teams, right from hockey to figure skating to archery to biathlon, curling, table tennis, any sport at all. And the Oldtimers paid their registration fee. It came to $8,750.”

Members of the Rusty Blades Oldtimers Hockey Club and 24 of the 25 young athletes heading to next month’s Arctic Winter Games gathered at the arena on Feb. 19 to recognize the club’s financial support for the athletes. On hand were, front row, left to right, Elie Lepage, Nikolas Hawkins, Jenna Demarcke, Keira Coakwell, Brianna Goodwin, Madyson Schwartz, Helene McKay-Ivanko, Mackenzie Schwartz, Rylee Robillard, Shelby Snow, Alex Hubert and Hunter Groenewegen; and back row, left to right, Chandelle Leonard, Layne Leonard, Conner McKay-Ivanko, Luke Pettipas, Owen Pettipas, Gavyn Lamoureux, Bill Gostic, Jason Coakwell, Jeff Boyce, Mike Maher, John Hill, Shanelle Moore, Joel Schwartz, Kami Gostick, Miah Harris, Grayson Groenewegen, Crystal Zhang, Jack Irwin and Delayna Cross. Missing from the photo is athlete Kaden Beck.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

A cheque in that amount was presented to the Sport North Federation on Feb. 4.

“Our executive wanted to do something for the kids and there are a lot of families that have two kids in different sports,” Boyce noted. “So it can get quite expensive.”

The Rusty Blades are just trying to help out, he added. “By no means does it cover all of their expenses, it’s only a portion of it, for sure, but just something that we can do.”

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The club president said this year’s donation has resulted in nothing but positive feedback from the parents of the athletes.

One of those parents is Jeff Groenewegen, who is also a town councillor.

Groenewegen told the Feb. 17 meeting of council about the donation, calling it a “quite phenomenal” action by the Hay River Rusty Blades.

“It was really just super generous, and an awesome gift to those kids and their families,” he said, adding that the Rusty Blades Oldtimers Hockey Club is an example of the outstanding groups in Hay River.

Boyce noted the money comes from the radio bingos presented by the club on Wednesday nights.

This is the first time that the club has covered the Hay River athletes registration fees for the Arctic Winter Games.

In 2018, the Rusty Blades donated about $5,000 in all to the sports in which a half-dozen Hay River young people competed at the AWG.

This year, the club had an amount in mind to donate, and it was about what would cover all the registration fees.

“We had a ballpark figure in mind,” said Boyce. “We didn’t know how exactly we were going to do it, but once the 25 kids got there, that approached our ballpark number of what we wanted to donate. So this was just really easy.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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