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Outlook exploring interest for Under-22 female hockey

Meeting draws interest in new local team.
2020 Town Sign

OUTLOOK - The town of Outlook has a long, storied history with the game of hockey.

Championships won, provincials hosted, regionals played, and all of it enjoyed by multiple age groups who've laced up a pair of skates and hit the ice.
But has there been something missing?

Could Outlook form a young female team?

That's the question being asked and the opportunity being explored by the riverside community after Hockey Saskatchewan put out a memo calling for applications for a provincial female junior team.

Specifically, Hockey Saskatchewan's board of directors have approved the formation of a Provincial Female Junior League (Under-22) for the 2023-24 season. With that in mind, communities around the province such as Outlook are now in the 'What if?' stage of forming their hopeful teams.

An informational meeting was held in the curling lounge of the Jim Kook Rec Plex in Outlook on Thursday, February 9. Those in attendance learned where the community sits with their proposed interest, which includes official letters of support that have been received from Mayor Maureen Weiterman, as well as from Brennan Hall, the incoming general manager of the Delisle Chiefs Junior Hockey Club; Jean Jones, the administrator for the RM of Fertile Valley; and Carman Fowler, the administrator for the Village of Kenaston.

Letters of support have also been canvassed and pursued around the region, including the RM of Rudy, Village of Broderick, Village of Glenside, RM of Montrose, RM of Rosedale, Town of Davidson, RM of Loreburn, RM of Dundurn, Village of Elbow, Town of Hanley, RM of Willner, RM of McRaney, Village of Strongfield, Village of Conquest, Village of Macrorie, Village of Loreburn, and the RM of Coteau.

In addition, Outlook's pursuit of an U22 female junior team has the support of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, with the Chief and Council indicating that they're prepared to also submit a letter of support.

As for a proposed budget, no dollar figures were revealed, but it was said that the numbers would be based on information received from two junior B men's teams, the Delisle Chiefs and Carrot River Outback Thunder.

Recruitment of players for the potential team would begin locally in Outlook, and would also welcome players from the communities around the region that provided letters of support for the league. It's said that after that, the organization would look outside the local talent pool, and if Outlook is awarded a team, the best route would be to have an open tryout camp and invite as many age-eligible players as possible. Such a move would give the organization the best chance at evaluating as many players as possible in order to choose the top talent to fill up the 25-player roster.

After scouting talent in the local area, it was said that there's an opportunity to recruit players from Delisle as that community already has a notable female hockey program where many local female athletes currently play hockey. The Delisle Minor Hockey Association (DMHA) has an Under-11, Under-13, and an Under-15 team, and they're in the process of starting an Under-18 team for the next season. Should Outlook be given the green light to form an Under-22 team, a working relationship between Outlook and Delisle could allow for a pipeline of players and talent to choose from and provide players with an opportunity to continue playing the game past the age of 18.

In terms of coaching, it was said that if Outlook is successful in obtaining a team, the first steps would be to recruit both a general manager and a head coach, with preference being given to experienced and qualified female candidates.

Proposed marketing and sponsorship numbers include platinum, gold and silver levels, as well as jersey and board sponsorship opportunities.

When discussion opened up to those in the curling lounge, questions over the Town's role in the possible team's formation came up.

"We're fascilitating, and then we're going to hand it off," explained Kevin Trew, who led the meeting. "I can tell you that there are already four people that have said they'd possibly be on the board that are in this room, and three others who've shared their interest. I don't think we're going to have trouble with the board."
There was also a question at the meeting regarding the town's motivation for pursuing such a team, to which economic growth was the predominant response.

"In my eyes, it's growing the community," said Kevin Grotheim. "It's development of our youth and it tells people, 'Wow, I can play on THIS team over here'."

"It brings people to town to watch the games, they're going to get their groceries here," added Jocelyn Petryshyn.

"If there's an opportunity there, you'd better take it because somebody else will," added Mayor Weiterman. "This way, we're going to stick our neck out, submit an application, and see where the chips lay. They might look at our application and say, 'No, we're not interested in having a team in Outlook', and well, at least we tried. They might also come back and say they're going to give us one, and then it's going to be boots to the ground."

"As well, if you're looking for a 23-page reason why, you can also read the strategic plan of the Town of Outlook," said Trew. "It talks about engaging partnerships, expanding the facility infrastructure, making better infrastructure, and growing the town."

"I'm very happy with all of those reasons," said Dan Erlandson. "What I'm trying to boil it down to is; how is the town going to incentivize that team to be here? I want this to happen, but how does the town help it happen?"

"I don't think that's a fair statement," replied Sharon Bruce. "We're here to try and get it started, and you always have to start with that first step."

Further discussion amongst those gathered in the curling lounge opened the narrative up about the future possibilities if the team is given the green light, but the main focal point was the understanding that nothing will happen with this opportunity at all if Outlook doesn't move the needle and pursue it.

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