Volunteering as Friends



By Shannon Coulter via Hockey Canada

There’s nothing better than volunteering with friends.

It was friendship that inspired Garry Schwan to get involved in off-ice officiating in Prince Albert, Sask., just over a decade ago.

“A friend of mine was running the clock and they never seem to have anybody that wanted to work in the penalty box,” Schwan says. “So, I started working and then kept going [after my friend stopped volunteering.]”

This group of mostly retired friends is now the backbone for off-ice officiating in Prince Albert, with some volunteering in minor hockey for almost 30 years, like Lloyd McBeath. You can find this dedicated crew volunteering for all the Prince Albert Raiders, Prince Albert Mintos and Prince Albert Bears games.

“I just liked the sport and getting involved,” McBeath says. “I enjoy the company with everyone.”

Since this crew has been working with the Prince Albert Bears for multiple seasons, the team was asked to volunteer at the upcoming Esso Cup and agreed to be there for all 19 tournament games.

“It’s fun to watch,” volunteer Dwight Sachkowski says about watching the Bears. “It is good hockey. The team that’s representing the province is Regina this year. They’ve got an awesome team. They’re going to be tough to beat.”

Another perk to volunteering with friends? Sharing laughter and making memories during every game together.

“We have a lot of fun bugging each other. We get along really well,” Sachkowski says.

“We do a lot of joking around during the games,” adds McBeath. “It's enjoyable.”

“We buy our 50/50 tickets,” Schwan says. “We’ve never won, but we’ve been buying them every game.”

The dedication of these volunteers has not gone without notice in the Prince Albert community. The host committee for the 2023 Esso Cup has expressed its gratitude for having such an eager group willing to volunteer their time for the tournament in addition to their work all season long.

“The girls and the management directors, they appreciate it,” Schwan says. “We get invited to their banquets every year. They’ve treated us pretty good.”

Volunteerism is the backbone of minor hockey, and if you’re looking to be a part of minor hockey, Sachkowski has some advice.

“Get involved,” he says. “It’s as simple as that.”

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