The fate of the Grizzlies

By Steve Smith

Two games into the 2012-13 Revelstoke Grizzlies’ season and we’re seeing a major amount of support for the Revelstoke Grizzlies from the public and local businesses. Attendance has been stable around 300 and climbing in the Forum. Revelstoke, we need you to continue to come out and support the team; bring your friends, relatives, and more. This will make the difference this year and here is why.

A)     With possibly no NHL hockey, you will need your hockey fix. The Grizzlies will even accept resumes from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and young players like that….maybe.

B)     Seriously, over the summer there were many rumors about the fate of the team and whether or not it was staying in town or being moved to 100 Mile House. There was a grassroots effort by the Revelstoke Grizzlies Society to keep the team here which led to awareness of the team’s plight. Owner Lewis Hendrickson stepped up to the plate and committed to keeping the team in Revelstoke in May 2012 at the KIJHL Board of Governors meeting in Castlegar. Lewis has committed much of his own personal finances to running and operating this team because he believes in Revelstoke and its youth. He’s striving to pay off the debt to local businesses that prior management amassed and he’s also pushing for local young men to play on the team. Businesses have been incredibly supportive and are slowly being paid back what was outstanding to them from last year. At the end of the season, if the team comes out just breaking even and not having any further debt load then the season will be a success.

C)     Hundreds of local businesses have gotten behind the Grizzlies this year offering their support. One of the most supportive has been the Revelstoke Credit Union and RCU Insurance. We are eternally grateful to their staff and I will explain why later

D)    The reality of running a Junior B hockey team is you’re not in it to make money — you do it for the love of the game and the kids. If even one of these Revelstoke kids goes on to play in the NHL like Aaron Volpatti and others, then our efforts are worth it. If you could see how the young kids rush down the stairs to high five their Grizzlies’ players as they leave or enter the ice’ and the pride in their eyes, then you’d know why I am volunteering and giving so much of my time. I stand there and watch them. These boys have dreams and conversely, our Grizzlies’ players are eager to hit the ice with them in their minor hockey practices and help this year. They’re also enthusiastic to be a part of the community in schools, the RCU Grizzly Bear Run and in other areas.

I was extremely excited to hear that around 900 or more people come out to watch the two local Roller Derby matches this summer and it gives me hope that Revelstokians will show the same support for their local hockey team this winter. I can recall going into the Forum and seeing 700-800 people in the stands in the late 1990s. That was great and is exactly what we’re trying to do this year is as well. I won’t lie to the general public on this. We need help. We need you to come to the games and cheer on the local kids, to buy season’s passes and share that sense of community pride that stretches to everything we do well in Revelstoke; including supporting Minor Hockey and all non-profit groups that try to make a go at making life better in our community.

We want to thank RCU right now. The Revelstoke Credit Union has such an amazing staff. They’ve been helping us with everything from running our ticket and booster booths to doing the deposits and keeping us on track financially; while offering us credibility and accountability. They are all volunteering and helping us and both Lewis, the coaches and I can unequivocally state how impressed and proud we are to have them help us. So many volunteers are making this a season to remember already.

This year is a learning process for both Lewis and myself but we are passionate about this team and what we’re offering the public.  The vibe in the Forum is electric this year and do we need help? Yes. Every game I am trying to greet fans as they come in and thank them as they leave the games. That’s what our town is about – supporting each other in all we do. These Grizzlies are some of the finest young men I’ve ever met. They are polite, focused, professional and ready to impress both on and off the ice. To the billet families who have so kindly taken them in and made them a part of their homes; our amazing Coordinator and photographer Lorie Reynolds -thank you. Many of the boys are looking for jobs and are eager to work and be a part of Revelstoke.

The next games are Tuesday, September 25th against perpetual rivals, the Kamloops Storm and then Friday, September 28th’s barn burner against the North Okanagan Knights is a special RMR Game Night. EVERY one that walks in the door has an opportunity to enter for an illustrious RMR Season’s Pass. Thanks to Kevin Manuel and the awesome staff at RMR and Sutton Place for their support.

Don’t forget to go into the Revelstoke Credit Union and talk to Crystal about an individual, family, senior, student or Corporate seasons’ pass by the end of September. The first 200 people who do this will be entered into a draw for a $3500 houseboat trip from Twin Anchors, a $600 ski and stay package from Sutton Place, or a $500 RONA gift card. Please show your support as time is running out.

I’m asking for your support this year Revelstoke. I’m not whining and begging. I can’t MAKE you come to the games and spend your hard earned money, but I do want you to see the product we’ve put on the ice with our new jerseys and our amazing coaching staff. I want you to share in our mistakes, our successes and our triumphs as we move forward with a great hockey team.

If you can volunteer and be a part of this process as we move forward that would be appreciated. In my time in Revelstoke, I’ve volunteered thousands of hours and helped numerous volunteer groups at either the radio station or as an individual. I need your help now and your support and want you to see why I’m excited to be a volunteer with the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

On behalf of our players, the coaches and management, thank you.

Steve Smith is the  Volunteer Business Manager for the Revelstoke Grizzlies

To volunteer, contact Steve at 837-7848.