The Sicamous Eagles will be taking flight again in the new year with some changes and additions to the team.
This season the Eagles have had the unique privilege of having the majority of the team living together in The Eagles Nest. The dormitory, built by local manufacturer TA Structures, was built with a plan to house the players of an elite hockey academy in the community of Sicamous; however like so many other things this year it was unable to open due to COVID-19. The unfortunate circumstance of the academy created a much needed opportunity for the Sicamous Eagles who were struggling to acquire enough billet homes. The Eagles were fortunate to have the support of the District of Sicamous who made it possible for them to rent the facility from the District to house the team in what is now known as the Eagles Nest. This was the only way we would have had a team this year, and it came with a great deal of responsibility and numerous hours away from family for all our volunteers, not to mention all this being done while most held down full time jobs. This has been a huge undertaking and commitment on the part of our volunteers who have assumed the responsibility of looking after the daily needs of players at the nest. Not only has our board of directors been volunteering but so has our volunteer management team.
When you hear Sicamous Eagles you instantly think Wayne March. GM of the Sicamous Eagles for more than 25 years (and 10 years as GM of the Sicamous Eagles Senior Mens AA team), Wayne has seen this team make it to the playoffs in 21 of its 25 seasons; become KIJHL champions three times and Keystone Cup Provincial champions two times; which qualified them to attend the Western Canada Championships (for Junior B teams, the equivalent of the Stanley Cup). The first time in their inaugural season they finished fourth at the Westerns, and the second time in 2001-02 they won it all. The Sicamous Eagles have also hosted the Western Canada Championships, a major undertaking which took a year to plan, prepare, organize and implement… to the present. Wayne has run numerous successful camps that at one time had 400 registered to attend.
The additional responsibilities and demands that COVID-19 protocols have put on Wayne as the facility manager of the Sicamous & District Recreation Centre made it necessary for him to step away from his long time role as GM of the Sicamous Eagles earlier this season. Wayne is still involved with the team in his role as facilities manager, ensuring the team follows the protocols that allows them to use the facility and continues to be part of our management team which had included being part of the group who oversees the Eagles Nest on his time off.
Rob Sutherland became the Interim GM at that time as he had been Wayne’s right hand man for the last few seasons. Rob who also volunteered to help manage the Eagles Nest soon found those responsibilities along with his role of Interim GM were far too much for a busy dad to take on.
We all knew from the beginning it would be tough to fill the void left by Wayne, not to mention the additional responsibility of housing 20 players and the ever changing COVID-19 protocols. It was apparent we needed some time to regroup if we were going to make this work for our team this season and in the coming years.
When we sent our players home on December 3rd due to the new PHO order, it gave us all the opportunity to take the time to assess the progress and needs of the team going forward. Upon review of last years season and the last few months which included feedback from players, their parents, the board as well as some of the management team it was clear that a team that was living, breathing and eating hockey together needed a more structured and hands on approach.
We are happy to say we feel we have found the right combination that came about by a chance meeting and a timely offer. The offer was made by Ron Sleeman who is our new GM. Ron, like Wayne has been involved with hockey most of his life which at one time included ownership of the Williams Lake TimberWolves Junior A BCHL hockey team. Ron not only brings his enthusiasm, passion and proven track record as a successful Junior A team owner, he is bringing in Gerald Bouchard as our new Head Coach.
Gerald was on the Pacific Rim Best Ever Under 17 team, played Junior A with the Notre Dame Hounds of the SJHL and played Pro Hockey Division 1 in Slovenia, Europe. He coached the University of Manitoba Women’s hockey team at the Alberta Winter Games Zone 2, was the Southern Alberta Scout for the Bonnyville Pontiacs Junior “A” team, and is currently offering Skills, Coach and Mentor Development through his own sports company 212 Sports Den in Vernon, BC. Gerald comes with not only the previously mentioned accomplishments but the attitude and mentorship abilities needed to inspire young athletes. Both Ron and Gerald’s bios will be posted on our new website in the coming days.
After much deliberation by the board and a discussion with our longtime GM Wayne March who said “we have to do what is best for the team” we made the decision to move forward with the proposed changes. The goal is to breathe new life and energy into this team made up primarily of rookie players. The unique opportunity for the team to bond off the ice as well as on is something we are all hoping to capitalize on while we have the chance.
The Sicamous Eagles have a long history and a whole lot of heart… which is evident by the commitment of Wayne March, Don Kerr (Busey), Lana Kerr and Pierre Bourget who are and have been part of keeping this team going for more than 25 years. The current board of directors and management team are lucky to have some of those who started this team still involved to pass on their philosophies and knowledge. It is difficult to attract volunteers willing to give their time these days, but you have to know you are part of something special and worthwhile when you see longevity within the management team and the board.
We are hoping to not only see the Sicamous Eagles fly again we are hoping to see our entire team soar. You could say this team gets its heart from Wayne, it’s willingness to go the extra mile from the management team and a board that has demonstrated its desire to learn and ensure the spirit and enthusiasm is passed on to all the players who call themselves Eagles today and for years to come.
We all want to see the Sicamous Eagles thrive and add to the list of accomplishments everyone in Sicamous is so very proud of.
Sicamous Eagles Board of Directors