Editorial note: The following is a submitted letter to the editor. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.
Tomorrow, Saturday, Mar. 4, 2023, is the Day of Champions for over 700 young people and their families playing minor hockey this season in the Kingston Church Athletic League (CAL). Final games for every team will take place at rinks across the city after months of learning and having fun together on the ice.
The Memorial Centre will host Championship games for each division, with the lights dimmed, the spotlight on, and smoke billowing as players are announced one at a time by their coaches and Oh Canada plays to kick off each game! All are welcome to attend, just as all are welcome to play in the CAL, Kingston’s oldest hockey league, founded in 1949.
I grew up playing in the CAL in the 1980s and began coaching my child’s team this season. It’s been a privilege and joy to encourage 15 kids as they learn to practice, have fun, win, and lose together. I was amazed by the quality of the mandatory coaching courses: from the five-hour course on gender diversity and equity; to the hours of content on identifying and preventing bullying and racism; to ideas for addressing the varying needs of each player with basic skills, from skating and shooting, to team tactics and strategy. As someone who’s been concerned about the challenges “hockey culture” has faced, I’ve been very impressed by the sincere efforts of the organizations and volunteers working to make the game we love a safe and welcoming space for everyone.
As Marney McDiarmid puts it: “My son started playing hockey for the first time this past October. I have to admit, as a queer parent and a feminist, I had some trepidation about this decision. Thankfully, our experience with CAL has been incredibly positive. I was impressed that the mandatory Respect in Sport course (which one parent or guardian from each registered family must complete) addressed head-on issues of racism, sexism, sexual and gender identity, and sexual assault. We’ve felt welcomed by administrative staff, the coaches, other parents and team members. It has been a great experience, one I’m thankful for as I can see how much our son loves the game.”
The Day of Champions tomorrow marks an exciting finale for the CAL’s first uninterrupted season since the pandemic began. Registration is open now for Spring Hockey and registration for next season will open in the summer at https://calkingston.com.
Young people ages five to 17, of all skill levels, are all welcome in the CAL, where there are plenty of extra skating and development programs; there is no body checking; and everyone is entitled to equal ice time, regardless of ability. Teams bring together kids from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders. Cost to players who are new to organized hockey can be greatly offset by programs such as First Shift and Second Shift, which set kids up with a full set of equipment while teaching them the basics of our national pastime.
Come on out and enjoy the Day of Champions tomorrow and register for hockey next season!
CAL coach, tournament organizer and parent
Share your views! Submit a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed article to Kingstonist’s Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].