TRURO - Let’s flashback 37 years when there were 650 youngsters registered with the Truro and Area Minor Hockey Association.
One of them was Rob Stuart, then an eight-year-old novice player, and he remembers it as a very exciting time in his life.
“My father, Ken Stuart, would take me to Colchester Legion Stadium for early morning practices,” recalled Stuart, now 45. “He would help tighten my skates. I really enjoyed hockey and I continued playing right up through midget.”
Stuart never strayed far from the game and besides coaching and serving on hockey executives he is now in his fourth year as president of the Truro and Area Minor Hockey Association.
“I stayed in the game because I enjoy hockey,” said Stuart, who operates Stuart Kia and resides at Shortts Lake. “We have good people involved and good kids. Most people find a cause they want to support. For me, I guess hockey is my second job.”
Stuart is pleased with this year’s numbers.
“We’re very close to last year’s total of 510 players registered,” he said. “A real good thing is we have really high initiation numbers and we have more than 100 four,- five-and six-year-olds.”
Truro registration fees begin at $275 for initiation players and increases to $570 for players in atom through midget.
Kathy Weatherbee of Shortts Lake is in her first year as president of the South Colchester Minor Hockey Association in Brookfield.
“It’s a huge learning curve,” said Weatherbee, the principal of Chiganois Elementary School in Masstown. “Everyone is in it for the kids. That’s what it’s all about.”
Weatherbee, whose husband Charles and son Camden are also involved in minor hockey, would like to see an increase in the number of players in the association.
“We’re holding our own registration-wise,” she said. “Enrollment to date sits around 207. This is right around where we were last year.”
Registration fees in South Colchester run from $200 for initiation hockey to $430 for peewee, bantam and midget players.
“I would like to encourage surrounding communities to support our single and most vital fundraiser,” said Weatherbee. “Our 50-50 draw is held each week. It is very important to our association and players.”
Alex Peters, the acting president of the West Colchester Minor Hockey Association in Debert, was introduced to hockey at an early age.
“I grew up in Sherwood Park near Edmonton,” Peters said. “I loved playing minor hockey and I got to watch every one of the Edmonton Oilers early Stanley Cup championships.”
Graduating from midget hockey, Peters played one season in junior A with Sherwood Park Crusaders.
“I moved to Colchester County from British Columbia during April of 2010,” Peters, who resides in Belmont, said. “This is my third week as acting president at West Colchester.”
Peters, whose sons Michael and Thomas play minor hockey, said registration to date is about 150, down 10 to 15 from last year.
“We’re hopeful we can reach last year’s total with late comers,” he said. “Registration is $475 but we have cut rates for first-year novice players and families with more than two kids playing.”
The Tatamagouche Minor Hockey Association has 52 kids registered compared to 67 last year.
“I’m anticipating we’ll hit 58 or 60,” Marilyn Hutchinson, the association’s president said. “The recreation centre is offering pickup hockey as well.”
The registration fee of $450 is reduced to $350 for players agreeing to help with fundraisers. A first-time player pays $125.
Hutchinson, involved with Tatamagouche minor hockey since 2007 while serving two terms as president, has no children playing.
“I’m actually doing this for my love for other people’s kids,” Hutchinson said. “If a child in this area wants to play hockey, I want to see that child gets a chance to play.”
Hopefully, during the upcoming season, more then 930 young people will get to play minor hockey in the four Colchester County associations.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857. For his previous Sports Scene column, click here.