There have been some comments from residents that the Otters or the Hawks (senior or junior take your pick) comprise the backbone of the local sports community, or that minor sports is what drives the engine. There is no doubt that a case could be made for each of the aforementioned entities.
However, it is my opinion that the true foundation for the local sports community is found inside a rather large building located at 58 Brunel Road.
Huntsville High School is a bastion of sports, with teams regularly competing for the top prizes in the Muskoka-Parry Sound League. It is rare to not see a Hoyas team competing regularly for a soccer or basketball championship, regardless of the age or gender. Should a HHS team fail to win an MPS title in either sport during the season, it is indeed reason to raise a Spock-like eyebrow.
Let’s not forget Nordic skiing, where the school dominated the 2011 Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ event, which left HHS holding eight out of 10 championship banners, including a heart-stopping finish in the senior boys’ four-by-800-metre sprint relay.
The Otters and the Hawks, because of their stature as junior/senior representatives in a province-wide spectrum, do garner a great deal of attention and therefore tend to dominate the sports coverage. But make no mistake, these teams, despite their newsworthiness, are not the end all and be all.
However, one person who is synonymous with sport in Huntsville doesn’t feel there is one sole foundation to the region’s sporting community.
John Cowan, who has worn more committee hats in our little sports world than Elizabeth Taylor has had husbands, says performance is not the only thing that determines the “backbone.”
“I do not concur with the statement that the Hawks or Otters or Hurricanes or Rocky Island Swim Club or Strikers or Arrowhead Ski Club or Hidden Valley (Ski Club) are no longer the backbone of the community,” he said when I broached the subject with him. “These organizations provide the cultural fabric to the community. Regardless of the performance-based outcomes, these programs provide opportunities and help build pride in a community and their sport. As a medium sized community with one high school and multiple elementary schools, there is a lot of overlap of participants at the youth level.”
John, for who I have all the respect in the world, said that the high school is able to use sport to encourage lifelong learning and participation with the aspiration that graduates will give back.
“School sport also gives the youth who may not try a sport an opportunity as a teacher, or a friend may encourage a student to get involved. Schools have the opportunity to offer diversified sport programs based on teachers’ interests, i.e. mountain bike team, gymnastics and rugby. Once the sport gains interest in the school then hopefully the community may create a club to offer the same opportunity. Sport is an integral component of providing the backbone to a healthy active community. The organizations (schools, clubs) who provide these opportunities share many resources: coaches, athletes, officials and facilities. School sport and club sport provide opportunities to the citizens to be active.”
While I agree with John on some of the major points of his statement, there is something that gives high school sports a leg up on other organizations … geography.
While club sports are usually organized by age, location or even skill level, HHS has distinct classification of junior, midget and senior that provides a real melting pot of talent. It brings young people from all across the region to one central sports hub and mixed their talents together in a diverse program that combines athletics with education.
So you take athletic excellence with young local athletes in what appears to be a great environment and you have a sports program that routinely hangs championship banners every year.
A great mix indeed. I would encourage people to get out and see these young teams in action, whether it is basketball, soccer or whatever sport tickles your fancy.
The price of admission is right and you can be sure to see some of the best athletes this town has to offer right before your eyes.
But as always, this is just my opinion.
Notes here and there: Tom McCarthy, still a popular name in Huntsville, appears to be doing a good job in his new post as head coach of the North Bay Trappers of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
The team is off to a 5-4 start and is tied for second in the league’s eastern division. Last year the Traps finished under .500, not a good sign for a team once the powerhouse of the league as the North Bay Skyhawks.
He is not the only person on the team with a Huntsville connection. Ryan West is in his second year with the Trappers. They are joined by Brandon Janke and Ronnie George, both Huntsville natives.
The Huntsville Curling Club at 6 Veterans Way is hosting two open houses this week. The first is tonight, Oct.12, from 7 to 9 p.m. and the second is Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Drop in and see what curling is all about and register for the upcoming season.
And one last rant… a pet peeve of mine is that many people still refer to the Olympic arena as the Canada Summit Centre … it is not … the arena is the Don Lough Arena, which is part of the centre’s complex like the Active Living Centre, the Jack Bionda Arena, the swimming pool etc.
Do you have an opinion on this subject? Email us at email@example.com or visit our website at www.cottagecountrynow.ca and tell us what you think.