Wednesday, 14 September 2016 12:18

Broncos strengthen community ties through new partnership

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Swift Current Broncos Board Chair Liam Choo-Foo (at right) speaks during the announcement of a new partnership with the Swift Current Minor Hockey Association (SCMHA), Aug. 31. Standing next to him is SCMHA President Wade Lacher. Swift Current Broncos Board Chair Liam Choo-Foo (at right) speaks during the announcement of a new partnership with the Swift Current Minor Hockey Association (SCMHA), Aug. 31. Standing next to him is SCMHA President Wade Lacher.

A new partnership between the Swift Current Broncos and the Swift Current Minor Hockey Association (SCMHA) will help to strengthen the ties between the WHL team and the community.

The two organizations announced the partnership and the rebranding of five AA representative teams under the Broncos name and logo, Aug. 31.
“Part of our strategic plan was to identify key partnerships that would help to enhance our profile throughout the community, be of benefit to the community and also be of benefit to the Swift Current Broncos,” Swift Current Broncos Board Chair Liam Choo-Foo said. “So it’s quite natural to think of minor hockey and while we’ve always enjoyed a good relationship with minor hockey, we decided it was time to be more direct with that relationship.”
SCMHA President Wade Lacher said the new partnership is the start of a long-term process of co-operation between the two organizations.
“We will be meeting periodically to discuss many items that will help us all work together in hockey,” he mentioned. “We both agree that this is a positive situation for both sides. We’re going to keep the lines of communication open for the future and it should hopefully benefit both organizations for years to come.”
The first result of this co-operation will be visible on the ice this season when the AA Atom, Pee Wee, Bantam, as well as the female and male Midget teams play in new jerseys under the Broncos name, logo and colours.
“Most of the teams we’ve had feedback on and all are looking forward to it,” he said. “As a kid you’re growing up and you watch the Swift Current Broncos. They’re going to be excited to put on that exact jersey and represent the city of Swift Current when they’re travelling around the province and outside the province.”
According to Lacher the rebranding of the five teams will not result in a significant additional cost for the SCMHA.
“There will be a little bit of cost that will occur with the buying of new jerseys, but we have that every year, especially with our representative teams,” he said. “New sets of jerseys are just a part of hockey. So we’re prepared for this.”
This agreement formalizes some previous interaction between the two organizations, which started last year and involved former Broncos Head Coach Mark Lamb and former Broncos Associate Coach Darren Evjen, who is now the head coach of the Swift Current Legionnaires.
“There was a committee formed and Mark Lamb was part of this, Darren Evjen was a part of this,” Lacher said. “They helped develop all our coaches and periodic meetings every once in a while to discuss certain things. Coaches could ask questions for these guys, get their insight and move forward, and try and help and develop themselves as coaches and help develop our players throughout our organization.”
There will be ongoing discussions between the Broncos and the SCMHA on issues such as coach and player development for minor hockey teams and other forms of co-operation.
“We’ve had a few initial meetings,” Choo-Foo said. “We’re going to continue on a regular basis to connect with members from the Bronco organization and Swift Current Minor Hockey to explore other avenues that we can look at to advance that relationship, raise the profile of the Broncos throughout the community and make that connection to minor hockey, build on some of the expertise that’s available within our organization. Some coaches maybe lending a helping hand, some players being a little bit more available, being more connected to some of the tournaments and to some of the kids. We’ll be exploring all of those different opportunities to begin with.”
One of the benefits of the partnership and the regular meetings of the committee will be the opportunity for both parties to share ideas in a structured way.
“We do have a few projects that we’re going to work on so that we can show some tangible progress and advancement, but on the other hand it’s also a space to just kind of blue sky,” he said. “You know all those conversations that occur on the bus ride back and people have great ideas and that’s sort of where they die? This is to try to create that space for those great ideas to then get implemented into actions and plans going forward. So we don’t really know where some of this may take us, but we do know that there is a commitment between both organizations to come together every once in a while and do some of that blue-skying and see what comes from it.”
The Broncos carried out a rebranding exercise in 2014 that updated the team’s horseshoe logo and brought back the blue and green colours. This partnership with SCMHA makes it possible for the minor hockey teams to use the Broncos brand and logo at no cost.
“What I think maybe a lot of people aren’t aware of is that it was over six figures for us to trademark our new logo and rebrand ourselves and change our colours, et cetera,” Choo-Foo said. “So we’ve had quite a financial commitment already in doing that and so we will be monitoring the use of our trademark and logo far more closely than was the case in the past.”
While WHL teams will have different ways to connect with their communities, he believes the Swift Current team is in a unique position to build those relationships with the community.
“We’ve always talked about us being the smallest market within the WHL and I think that gives us opportunities that some of those larger centres do not have,” he said. “We think because we are a smaller community we can take advantage of the tight bonds and connections that we can make. From our perspective, we haven’t done a good enough job of doing that in the last few years, and that’s why we’re advancing that activity now.”

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Matthew Liebenberg


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