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'Great cause': Oldtimers hit ice to aid local Big Brothers Big Sisters

'I think it's important to support the youth in the area. I think growing up is challenging for a lot of people,' says local hockey player happy to support the cause

The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Orillia & District Oldtimers Hockey Tournament is facing off this weekend at Orillia's Rotary Place. 

There are 19 men's and ladies’ teams made up of players who are 35 and older playing in the tournament this weekend with the common goal of raising $35,000 for BBBS.

Miranda Chaffey, the executive director of BBBS of Orillia & District, says she is hopeful they will reach the goal.

"We are pretty confident," she said, noting the Jr. C McLean & Dickey Orillia Terriers game on Saturday night will be a part of the fundraiser. "All the proceeds from bar service at the game will come back to our agency, and we will also have a 50/50 draw and silent auction table there as well." 

The Terriers host Schomberg at 7:30 p.m.

The tournament officially got underway on Friday at 7 p.m. Teams have travelled from Burlington, Toronto, and Collingwood to play and there are also a few local teams competing as well.

"We have teams coming from all over," Chaffey said. "But the proceeds from the tournament stay with our agency in Orillia."

Chaffey says BBBS of Orillia and District relies heavily on community support for its funding.

"We don't receive funding from the government," she explained. "This is one of our biggest fundraisers that supports our core programming here in Orillia."

This year marks the return of the tournament that had been on ice since the pandemic.

"We are a little bit light on our teams compared to years prior," Chaffey said. "I think a lot of the returning teams are excited based on their experience from years prior and the new teams are excited to be supporting a great cause."

Chaffey says divisions separate the competitive teams from the ones who are just playing for fun.

"For the most part, everybody is just coming out to have a good time," she said. "Especially the older divisions, they just want to come out and play for fun."

Chaffey says winning the tournament is anybody’s game and everybody has a fair chance to walk away with a medal.

"Everybody is a winner because they know all the funds go to a good cause," she said.

With about half of the players in the tournament coming from out of town, Chaffey hopes the tournament will give the City of Orillia an economic boost.

"We are encouraging our players to shop and dine locally while they are here," she said.

For Matt VanDewiel, 39, this is his second time playing in the tournament. He is playing for Michael Scott Landscaping this weekend.

"It's a great group of players," he said. "All of the teams are here for the common goal and it's a great atmosphere."

VanDewiel says the tournament provides "good hockey and good fun" for participants.

"I've always enjoyed playing hockey," he said. "I'll use any excuse to strap on the skates and get out."  

VanDewiel says it's important to support BBBS, now more than ever.

"I think it's important to support the youth in the area," he said. "I think growing up is challenging for a lot of people and in the last few years, there has been added stresses."

VanDewiel says everybody is welcome to attend the tournament this weekend and make a donation to support BBBS.

The tournament wraps up on Sunday with the championship games beginning at 12:30 p.m.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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