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The Swan Valley Stampeders organization and volunteers

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"Other than our sponsors and fans that either purchase game tickets, seasonally or in walk-up, or lotto tickets, it doesn’t cost the Town of Swan River anything other than providing an arena to play in, which we pay rent to use.”

Kirk noted that if Swan River were to lose the junior A team, the rink would lose its largest renter, which would drive the costs of other rentals up to cover the costs, as well as impact the surrounding smaller rinks financially due to differing schedules and use times.

Along with the use of the rink, the Stampeders increase the presence of the Swan Valley across the province.

“Thirty-two times a year, teams from across Manitoba come to play here,” said Kirk. “Each team is approximately 28 people, all of which take back to their communities what they saw in Swan River.

“We also have 20 to 25 young men from all across Canada and the United States that call Swan River home for close to six months a year, who have family and friends come visit them and begin to understand what Swan River is all about.

“On top of this, we have three employees that either move and purchase a home, or move and rent in Swan River,” continued Kirk.

“Approximately five days a week, the Swan Valley is recognized provincially on radio, TV and in newspapers through game schedules, coverage or results.”

Kirk noted that there have also been players who have remained and made their home in Swan River, and even some who have married young ladies from Swan River. He added that there have even been parents of players who have made the move to the Valley.

“The billet families are very important in making these players feel welcome, and without them, we wouldn’t have a team,” he said. “These families open their homes to these players and treat them like they are a part of their family.”

Above and beyond the Stampeders economic impact on the community, and the families they have, even for a short while, they also have an impact that reaches far beyond themselves.

“I believe the players coming up in the minor hockey system look up to these players and all hope to be a Stampeder when they get older,” said Kirk.

“The players are also very active in the community, becoming involved in events such as Spooktoberfest with Swan Valley Communities that Care, the Terry Fox Run, and the Remembrance Day services.

“The players also help at and attend as many minor hockey practices as they can,” continued Kirk.

“Some also work at various locations around the Valley, and have fun doing things as a team.”

The Stampeders can sometimes be viewed as nothing more than entertainment for junior hockey fans in the area. But, make no mistake, they’re a lot more important to the Valley than meets the eye. Showing support in one way or another is vital. Without them, we will see a lasting, negative impact on the entire Valley. They’re one more positive in keeping the area we call home relevant to both visitors and to future generations.

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Jessica Bergen
REPORTER
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