Stampeders at risk of folding; board members and volunteers desperately needed

The Swan Valley Stampeders Junior A Hockey Club is sounding the alarm on the current state of board members and volunteers with the organization.

After operating their 25th season with a skeleton crew this past year, the club is in desperate need of community members to step up to fill the many vacant board seats and to lend a hand in some key areas or they risk not being able to operate for the upcoming 2024-25 season.

“We ran this past year with just six of our 12 board seats filled,” said President and Governor Cramer Coulthart. “Other than a few key volunteers, our small board was tasked with staffing each home game as well as running most fundraising projects.

“This is clearly less than ideal and it has put a strain on the remaining members and caused burnout to the point that we are looking at potentially having only two board members remaining at our AGM in June.”

This will also leave two of the organization’s top positions open. Coulthart announced to the board last week that he would not be seeking re-election and Vice-President Danielle Gordon-Broome has also made it clear that she will not return if more support for the team does not come forward.

Not only is the current situation not feasible to operate with but it’s also unconstitutional and the team would not be able to move forward with operations.

“It’s disappointing to see a 25-year legacy be put in jeopardy this way,” said Gordon-Broome, noting that board and volunteer recruitment efforts in the last few years have been mostly unsuccessful. “Having a junior A hockey team is not only something our community should be proud of but it also brings many economic and societal advantages. Not only does the arena facility benefit from the team’s rentals and use but the hotels, stores, restaurants, schools and individual families are enriched by having these players and visiting teams in our community.

“Our Valley has proven time and time again that they will come out and support the team in the good times, like during strong playoff runs, but we need that support to continue at all times.”

Being a board member does not mean that you will be expected to attend and work at all home games. Just like being a volunteer does not mean that you will be tasked with making team decisions. But, the team needs people willing to do both of these tasks to be successful.

“The board meets on an as-needed basis, for the most part,” said Coulthart, noting the meeting commitment is not overwhelming. “We need all types of people – financially minded, hockey experienced, well-connected, marketing savvy, etc. – if you are passionate about the team, whatever skills you bring to the table will be an asset and will make for a well-rounded group.”

Additionally, more volunteers need to step up, at any level.

“You might be able to commit to helping with a single fundraiser, one game, six games or most home games throughout the season,” said Gordon-Broome. “Volunteering is done at the capacity that works best for you and isn’t something to be cautious about.

“The expression ‘many hands make light work’ is incredibly true for organizations such as ours that rely so heavily on volunteers to succeed. Whatever you can help with will be appreciated and will go a long way toward the team’s success.”

With the AGM fast approaching in June and decisions needing to be made for the 2024-25 season the future of the club is currently uncertain.

“We want to see the Stampeders celebrate more milestones in the future but it won’t be done without the community coming out to help,” said Coulthart. “We just had an amazing prospects camp and the future of the team on the ice is very bright. We are also in a very solid financial position and not many junior teams can say that.

“But, from an organizational standpoint, it’s at the point where it’s ‘come out and support now or never’ and if this organization is allowed to slip away it’s not likely it will ever return.”

To move forward the board needs eight to 10 individuals to commit to a three-year term. Board duties include overseeing budgets and financials, high-level operations decisions, planning fundraisers and organizing volunteers.

To express your interest in becoming a board member please call or text Cramer Coulthart at 204·281·4255 at your earliest opportunity.

The board is also looking to compile a list of volunteers to move forward with. If you are interested in volunteering with the team please call or text Danielle Gordon-Broome at 204·281·2082. You can also register using the online signup form located on the Stampeders website at www.stampedershockey.com.