Though the sun may be out and it is still August the kick off to a new season of Golden Rockets hockey is just around the corner. With training camp happening in the first week in September hockey fans will soon be heading back to the arena to watch Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
On September 4, the Rockets will be holding a special alumni game where Rockets of the past will come back to play against some of the players on the current team.
One of the organizers of the alumni game, Colleen Palumbo, is excited to see former players come back for the event.
“This gives some of our old players the chance to come back to Golden and say thank you to the billet families and the fans who supported them when they played in Golden. Some of the players finished out their careers here while others were only here for a month or two. It is an opportunity for us to celebrate that the Golden rockets are alive and well,” Palumbo said.
This season will see the Rockets celebrate their 20th season.
“We are entering the 20th year right now and there were a lot of speculations along the way on whether or not we would make it. We have even though there have been bumps along the way. I think every hockey teams faces this but through the work of the people we are still here. I think people realize the program we offer is so good and rich that they want to see it continue,” Palumbo said.
She went on to explain the team was originally started so that local boys would have the chance to play without having to leave home.
“We were in a good location. We could draw on players from Alberta but we could not draw from the lower mainland like many other teams do in the league. We have worked hard to get things on track over the past few years and things have been going really well.”
One of the reasons why the team has been doing well has to do with the strong volunteer and business support the team has received from the community.
“All of the businesses and people in Golden make this work. It takes about 25 volunteers at every home game to bring this together. If we had to pay those people we could not do it. Over the years we have all taken different roles. People have stepped in and helped keep it working,” Palumbo said.
As for the upcoming season Palumbo is very excited to see it kick off.
Palumbo first got involved when she was asked to temporarily put up one of the players until they found a permanent place for him. This happened 11 years ago and since then she has had players living with her every year but one.
“I would say to people who have never done it to give it a try. After all these years we still have these boys stopping in and visiting. We just returned from a wedding of the first boy we billeted and it makes you feel good to know you helped these young men grow as people. They do not forget it. It is something for people who have never tried it before – they will be nervous,” Palumbo said.
To have a chance to watch the “young guns” play the old Rockets, come by the Golden and District Centennial Arena and if you are interested in volunteering during the season talk to a volunteer at a game.