Wednesday, 18 July 2012 10:28

Alumni return to new format Bronco golf tournament

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Former Bronco players were back in Swift Current last weekend to catch up with past teammates and to enjoy time on the greens during the annual alumni golf tournament.

This year’s WW Smith Insurance Swift Current Bronco Alumni Golf Classic, which took place at Elmwood golf course on July 13 and 14, followed a different format under the guidance of a new committee headed by Jeremy and Kristin Rondeau.
“I would hope to do similar things next year,” Jeremy said. “Maybe some spins on a few of them, but overall I think it was well received. When people have fun at these events they’re going to look forward to coming out next year to be involved again.”
There were 33 alumni at the event, including the team’s all-time leading scorer Todd Holt, Dale Weise of the Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators centre Zack Smith and AHL players Cody Eakin and Justin Dowling.
For former goalkeeper Travis Yonkman, who played four seasons with the Broncos from 2005 to 2009, it was his first time back for the event.
“Obviously every year I want to come back but other things are kind of in the way,” he said. “But this year I made it clear that I was coming down and I made sure a lot of the guys that I played with were coming down as well.”
He has kept in touch with a lot of his former team mates. He moved to Red Deer, Alberta, about a year ago to start an electrical apprenticeship and to play for the Bentley Generals.
A few other former Broncos like Derek Claffey and Michael Stickland also stay in Red Deer and they see each other on a regular basis. Yonkman was able to attend a Broncos game in Swift Current at Christmas time, which he said was a good experience.
“It was a blast, just to see familiar faces and to see the fan support,” he mentioned. “They have a good group of people that you know this team is going to grow.”
For Broncos Head Coach Mark Lamb it was good to see the players returning for the alumni event.
“It’s like a big family,” he said. “It’s just great seeing them progress, what they’re doing in life now. It’s not all about hockey. It’s about life and when they come back, sit around and have a couple of laughs with them it’s great to see.”
An important change to this year’s event was the two-day format, which resulted from adding a practice round for alumni and high level sponsors on July 13.
“Everyone that was part of our Friday round loved it,” Kirstin Rondeau said. “So we’ll definitely be keeping that.”
Jeremy said the alumni were good ambassadors for the Broncos during the Friday event and he received positive feedback from sponsors.
 “A few of them that I’ve talked to want to come back next year and some of them will increase their level of exposure and sponsorship,” he mentioned. “That means we ran a good event for a crew that was doing it for the first time and we’re pretty excited about that. It’s encouraging that people want to be a part of that day or that weekend.”
The actual tournament on July 14 started with the introduction of the alumni at noon. This was followed by a chip-off and longest drive challenge before the official shotgun start at 1 p.m.
“I think some of the alumni were a little nervous to do that,” Jeremy said about the formal introduction. “But I hope they appreciate the fact that we’re trying to put them in the spotlight a bit and to allow some of our golfers who wouldn’t otherwise have known who the alumni are the opportunity to understand who’s there.”
While not all the alumni would be able to return every year, Jeremy felt the alumni had fun and that will encourage them and others to come again.
“A lot of that momentum will be driven by those guys,” he said. “I can only send out so many e-mails, but if they can get in touch with a few guys and pull a few more in all the better for us.”

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