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Outlook kids, parents get something out of hockey

The sport gives kids so much more than just a good time.
Kids lacing up their skates to play hockey brings out the best in them, says Outlook Amateur Sports President, Aaron Gross. Photo: Derek Ruttle/The Outlook

OUTLOOK - The sport of hockey is adored by millions of Canadians across this great nation.

Here in Saskatchewan, whether it's in the biggest of cities or the smallest of towns, that familiar click-clack sound can be heard reverberating on the walls of ice rinks in communities all around the province.

People milling about, buying 50/50 tickets, grabbing a coffee for the next period, or maybe chowing done on a classic rink burger with perhaps a side of friendly arguing about where the best burger comes from.

"Best one's made here in Outlook!"

"I have to disagree. The best rink burger of all time comes from Conquest!"

"You're both wrong; the best rink burger calls Dinsmore home!"

"Something wrong with all your taste buds, buds? Everyone knows the creme de la creme of burgers hails from the Kenaston rink!"

You know the routine. All of it stems from one commonality; a love for the game of hockey.

Aaron Gross is the president of Outlook Amateur Sports, joining the board in 2019 and assuming his role in 2021. He wanted to take on the role and help out in the best ways that he could. Right now, with a partnership with another community, Outlook's player numbers are keeping pretty even.

"So, our numbers, we're very similar to last year," said Aaron, talking with The Outlook. "There are about 100 kids in hockey right now. We did drop slightly, but that's because our girls teams have joined forces with Delisle. It's kind of a split venture between Delisle and Outlook on girls hockey."

From Aaron's perspective, it's the things that players learn both on the ice and from each other that makes hockey such an ideal outlet for kids.

"I believe the best thing for them playing hockey is to learn teamwork," he said. "There's real winning and losing, as it's not just straight participation anymore. They learn to work as a team, and with practicing too; the more you practice, the better you'll get."

With kids of his own involved in the sport, Gross says that he appreciates what hockey can do for kids, instilling values and helping the young athletes develop relationships with their fellow players.

"I have two kids in hockey; one boy and one girl," he said. "I like the team commodity that the kids get out of it. It's a great atmosphere for the kids, and I think they develop stronger relationships with other kids and gain more friends. They also learn the value of teamwork and having commitment to a team."

Earlier in February, an informational meeting was held surrounding the possibility of Outlook forming an Under-22 female team. This came after the Hockey Saskatchewan Board of Directors approved the creation of a new junior league for female players in December.

It's expected that the U22 league will be up and running by next season, with a Hockey Saskatchewan AAA/AA Task Team currently working on the process to seek applications from communities in order to be a part of that inaugural season.

“With Under-13 AA this year within the Saskatchewan Female Hockey League, we've seen that league grow to well over 100 teams. Adding a Junior (U22) option for young ladies is something that's going to be exciting as well.

Our Task Team is creating the process to recommend to the Board how teams can apply, how teams will be selected and how the league will be administered. It is a great initiative for us,” Hockey Saskatchewan general manager Kelly McClintock said in a media release.

With the news of an Under-22 female team still very new among hockey communities around the province, and Outlook's involvement in it still in the 'What if?' stage, Gross says that although things aren't concrete in development, he likes the idea of such a team existing in the riverside community.

"I'm not 100% sure on the U-22 female team just yet," he said, knowing that the possible team is still very much in the discussion and determination stages. "I think it'd be great perspective for the young girls to see older girls playing hockey in order to keep them in it longer. There's quite a dropoff in girls hockey once you start getting past the U-11 age, so I think that would help considerably."

The best thing about the sport of hockey, in Aaron's eyes, is what it brings out of the athletes that lace up their skates, grab their sticks and hit the ice.

"The competitiveness," he said. "It's a high-speed, competitive sport, and I think it's great playing and great watching. It gives us something to pass the winter with!"

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