Many of us dread turning 30 but for Ehrlo Sport Venture, the upcoming anniversary is something to be celebrated.
Ehrlo Sport Venture’s Outdoor Hockey League (OHL) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It is a time for us to reflect on the past and plan for the future. From its humble beginnings in a Regina classroom to a league that now welcomes over 300 youth a year, the OHL allows all youth the opportunity to play hockey by removing the financial barriers.
Over the next several weeks we will be highlighting stories from volunteers, former and current players, and the media over the past 30 years. Please tune in weekly for a little piece of hockey history.
The Outdoor Hockey League (OHL) and Dress-A-Champion were first thought of by former Ranch Ehrlo teacher Russ Matthews.
Russ and his Ranch Ehrlo students at Coronation Park School helped create the Dress-A-Champion program and the OHL as part of a school project.
Back in the early 90s when Russ started the league, the school kids did the promotion to generate equipment donations, bring in sponsors, and attract players from local schools.
“Back then there was this thing called common essential learnings where your math lesson relates to your language arts lessons which relate to your social lesson. We used hockey as a common project – in a gym we could play hockey, in social studies we could talk about poverty and crime, and in art, we would draw the posters,” explained Russ in an interview in 2012.
Once the class collected all the equipment, they would work on polishing skates and mending damaged gear. They would then approach local schools and the students would talk to the principal to promote the hockey league.
The class decided to create the first outdoor hockey rink at Grassick Park in inner-city Regina because, at the time, the area had the highest crime rate in all of Canada.
The OHL provides recreational opportunities for kids who miss out on playing hockey due to poverty or other barriers that limit access to organized sports. It provides equipment free-of-charge and organized weekly hockey games. But the league was also created to strengthen communities.
Russ added in his 2012 interview, “The whole idea behind the Outdoor Hockey League is to empower the community to take ownership. We wanted to bring the park alive in the community and have it as a hub for people to network. We like to say that when you give a kid a hockey stick you aren’t giving him a handout you are giving him a tool to make him stronger physically and cognitively. You are building his pride, giving his family something to bond over, and you are making the community stronger.”
Today the OHL is gearing up for its next season which kicks off in December at eight different rinks in Regina. Registrations for the 2022-2023 season will open soon.
We will also be celebrating our upcoming anniversary with a celebratory family skating event on November 2nd from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. at the Brandt Centre rink for Ehrlo Sport Venture players, parents, volunteers, and sponsors. Come skate on the same rink as the Regina Pats! If you are interested in coming, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there!