The youth of Deloraine and area have benefitted from the hockey Breakfast Club program for 14 years. Don Dietrich, Jamie Olson and Bob Caldwell started the program. Currently there are other hockey people involved, including Tony Franklin, Paul Artz, Brad Vandenberghe, Matt Palmer and Brittany Williams. The program will continue as long as youngsters want to come to the rink and work on their hockey skills.
“We have supported other communities to “kick start” Breakfast Club programs in the province. There are now 25+ such clubs in Manitoba; many of which resulted from mentorship clinics that some of our instructors have done across Manitoba. They have encouraged clubs as far away as North Dakota, Newfoundland and Romania,” said Bob Caldwell. The local coaches and players produced 4 full length DVDs which are literally being used world-wide as skill development models. The Hockey Manitoba National Coach Mentorship Program uses the DVDs at every puck control clinic they offer.
Breakfast Club is held every Wednesday from 7:30-8:30 with 45 minutes on the ice and then a quick breakfast before heading to school. Some parents report it is the one day their kids are up and out of bed without being called and ready to go to the rink. And teachers report that Breakfast Club kids arrive at school alert and ready to go! The program is offered free and inclusive to everyone. “No one is turned away from AAA midgets to first year Novice to new immigrant families. This year we are averaging around 25 players per day which is over 30% of our minor hockey association,” said Caldwell.
The program is self-funded by a group called the Deloraine Sport Development Fund which fundraises as needed. The municipality donate the ice, the rink manager donates his time to prepare the ice, and coaches volunteer their time in preparation and active coaching.
“The rationale for the Breakfast Club is to “provide an opportunity for the children in the Deloraine Minor Hockey system to be the best they can be. We have a beautiful rink and kids wanting more ice so this seemed like a logical solution. We wanted to encourage youth to be active and fit and this provides a few hours of supervised activity for them. The reward for the instructors is the satisfaction of seeing kids improve and enjoy the game. They are there very early and often in very cold conditions so they are keen to learn.
“Personally, for my grandson in Hartney (where Caldwell also helps with Breakfast Club) – the benefits include an extra ice time every week, skill development, fitness, an opportunity to work on specific skills, social interaction with different age groups, older players can assist with younger ones, being respectful of others, and an opportunity to try new things in the free time they have,” added Caldwell.
Offering the Breakfast Club is a group effort among the instructors, breakfast organizer (Teresa Bell has handled the groceries and breakfast set up for years), parents (especially moms on pancake days) and the rink manager.
Brad Vandenberghe, Deloraine Minor Hockey president, sums it up very well. “Our community is extremely lucky to have Bob volunteer his time and share his knowledge for our kids. His passion for the game of hockey is second to none, combine that with his knowledge base and in my mind there is no one better to be teaching skills to our kids.”