BARRIE – A fun, affordable hockey experience – that’s what the Barrie Ball Hockey Club offers year-round.
“We’ve been around since 1994 and started off with one rink and a trailer,” said ballhockey.com Barrie manager Kyle Vokes.
But the club has grown incredibly since then – to a seven-day-a-week program that runs in all four seasons on four rinks at Ferndale Drive and Dunlop Street West.
“Last spring was our biggest season, with over 290 teams,” said Vokes, who estimates more than 15,000 players have experienced action on the Barrie rinks – but the ballhockey.com momentum hasn’t stopped at Barrie’s borders.
The Barrie-based sports club offers programs in Brampton, Hamilton and St. Catharines.
And it’s gearing up for the World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships Oct. 6 to 9.
“For Barrie to offer the biggest ball hockey facility in Canada and potentially the world is unbelievable, ” said Vokes, who isn’t surprised at the sport’s popularity here or in other communities. “Hockey appeals everywhere, because it’s Canada. I’ve been here since 2004 and it’s blossomed. Part of it is because Canadians love hockey. We do it year-round and it’s an outdoor experience.”
The club begins its roster of play for those ages three to five in its Growing Up Through Sports program, a house-league that offers equal game time, fair play and fun for all, he noted.
Games for younger players begin as early as 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 7:30 a.m. weekends.
Youth registration for the season that begins Sept. 18 is underway, with a deadline of Sept. 11.
Kids are required to have a CSA-approved helmet, gloves, shin pads, and a stick that does not have a wooden base. Cost is $150.
Barrie Ball Hockey also offers an array of adult leagues, for beginners through to those who enjoy more competitive action.
There are women’s, men’s and co-ed leagues, as well as a program for people with disabilities.
Adults may register as individuals or as part of a sponsored team. They may also create their own teams, just as Vokes did years ago. “I put in a team back in 2004 with a bunch of buddies from high school. We still play,” said Vokes. “I also play co-ed with my girlfriend. The Jack and Jill league is very family-friendly, and we have over-30s and under-30s.” For adults, the only required equipment is running shoes, a stick and gloves. All other pieces are optional.
The special-needs program costs $95 and pre-registration in person is required at the office at 125 Ferndale Dr. N.
Office registration hours are Monday to Friday, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information, call the office at 705-721-0198 or visit www.ballhockey.com.