Rider Pride and generosity took over the city on February 13 during an all-day event that saw over $20,000 raised for a new football field in Weyburn.
The Rider Pride Hockey Challenge presented by SaskCanola was held at Crescent Point Place, where a team of Saskatchewan Roughriders faced a local team in a charity hockey game in front of a crowd of Green and White football fans. Funds raised at the event will go towards developing a new football field for the city and Weyburn Minor Football (WMF).
The Weyburn Rider Nation Touchdown Luncheon at McKenna Hall was held before the game and gave fans the opportunity to meet the Riders and ask questions. Several auction items were sold during the luncheon, raising just over $15,000 of the $20,000 raised. The highlight of the auction was a Fan Fantasy Package, which was a surprise entry made by the Riders. The item went for $4,500.
The opportunity to host the Rider Pride Hockey Challenge was presented to Weyburn Rider Nation organizers Rochelle and Nicole Wendt in November 2010. This offer was made to all five finalists of last year's "Where is Riderville" contest, held in commemoration of the Riders centennial. Of the five (Weyburn, Avonlea, Unity, Nipawin, Yorkton), only Yorkton was unable to participate.
Steve Mazurak, former Rider wide receiver and currently in charge of team sales and marketing, said that all of the communities involved used the opportunity to raise funds for a community project, such as a new football field for Weyburn.
"This is a wonderful project for Weyburn and we just want to be a part of it," said Mazurak. "This was a great opportunity for the Roughriders to show support to this great fan base of ours."
Rochelle said that the event went very smoothly, thanks to the help of several volunteers from WMF.
"Weyburn is getting good at hosting these awesome parties," said Rochelle.
Rochelle said that members of the local hockey team, the Weyburn Rider Nation Generals, which faced the Riders team, were chosen because of the immense support these individuals showed during Weyburn's bid for the Riderville contest.
Members of the Weyburn team included goalies Darryl Mutrie, Cory Hicks and Ryan Maloney, coaches Brad Wendt, Owen Skjonsby and Corey Morrissette, and players Peter Thackeray, Curtis Neiszner, Chad Ror, Rob Stephanson, Mike Bell, Reed Anderson, Glenn Rogers, Chris Moser, Dustin Mainil, Rob Kalman, Winston Bailey, Darren Abel, Don Struthers, Norm Little and MLA Dustin Duncan.
Members of the Rider Priders team were Rider players Chris Getzlaf, Jason Clermont, Shomari Williams, Chris Best, Dan Clark, Jordan Sisco, Tamon George, Nick Hutchins, and coaches Marcus "Chunky" Adams and Brent "The Hawk" Hawkins, and Rider staff Kelly Forsberg, Kevin Kline and Steve Mazurak.
Local minor hockey player, Austin Gulash, was given the opportunity to play with the Riders as the SaskCanola Kid.
Michael Mainil, vice-president of WMF and co-chair of the facilities committee, said that the organization is indebted to Weyburn Rider Nation and the Wendt's for their support.
"The Wendt girls are incredible ambassadors to football," said Mainil. "They brought a renewed excitement to the game. I think that's one of the reasons for our increased numbers."
WMF has seen significant growth in the past five years, according to WMF President Brent Allin, "We've gone from having one team in 2006 to three teams in 2010 and our rosters were, for the first time, full at all levels. In fact, we had a waiting list last year and we were turning kids away. That's really something I feel as president is unacceptable. We want to make sure that every kid who wants to play football has an opportunity to do so."
Members of WMF gave a proposal to the City recently of their plans to develop a new football field near the high school's Kot Field.
"Our hope is that the City will partner in this project financially," said Mainil.
Allin said that WMF's vision is to help raise the funds necessary to develop the field, but that it would become a City owned and maintained facility, much like their current playing fields at Jubilee Park, which WMF has now outgrown.
WMF facilities committee co-chair Dan Gulash said that with the support of the City, residents and business community, it is no longer an issue of if the field will get built, just where and when.