For the first time ever Williams Lake played host to the 2013 Team BC player selection camp for the upcoming National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, to be held April 28 to May 4 in Kahnawake, Que.
Team BC coaching staff for both the male and female team selection camps spent the weekend at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex evaluating players to select the province’s top Aboriginal players to represent B.C. at nationals. Players from around the province showed up for the camp.
Creston’s Chris Luke Jr., head coach of the Team BC female team, said everyone was happy to be in Williams Lake for the camp, which is normally hosted in Merritt.
“From here we select our team,” Luke said. “We’re choosing 20 girls — we’ve got 30 players here — and for the boys — there’s 80 players here — we make four teams. We try to divide it up into four even squads and even it up the best we can.
“We’ve got quite a mix of players here right now. With the boys program we can also choose junior ‘B’ and junior ‘A’ roster players.”
From Williams Lake, trying out on the boys’ side were Christian Stump, Cory Sterritt, Matt Brenner, Sheldon Paul, Darien Grace, Trevor Rivet, Dylan Sellars and Xavier Stump.
Luke said the program, hosted by Aboriginal Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity, is an amazing opportunity for the players.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Luke said. “Not only do you get to play against the best Aboriginal players across the country but it draws a lot of attention, as well.
“Since I’ve been involved there have been junior and college scouts at this tournament and, last year when I was assistant coach with the boys’ team, 15 players went on to play junior hockey from that squad.”
It’s a program, he said, that’s gaining momentum and creating a lot more interest.
Leading up the head coaching duties for the Team BC boys team is Merritt’s Joe Quewezance, with Kamloops’ Shane Gottfriedson and Creston’s Josh Hepditch taking on the assistant coaching duties.
“It’s an exciting program to be a part of right now,” he said.
“I hadn’t been to Williams Lake in quite some time but I liked this facility [the complex] when I first came here and it’s even better now.”