A look back at the Sandy Hill Winter Classic, the RSG Event of the Year – The Fulcrum

A look back at the Sandy Hill Winter Classic, the RSG Event of the Year – The Fulcrum
A look back at the Sandy Hill Winter Classic, the RSG Event of the Year – The Fulcrum

SHWC Organizer Mikaleigh Cairns drops the puck for the final game of the tournament. Photo: Carson Baker

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16 teams, 154 players, 30+ volunteers — and one massively successful day for cancer research

After a four-year hiatus, a February staple on the Sandy Hill community calendar was resurrected. After fourth-year psychology student Mikaleigh Cairns stumbled upon the Sandy Hill Winter Classic by chance, she utilized her position as vice president of philanthropy and activism with the Psychology Students Association (PSA) to revive it.

The charity hockey tournament was last held in 2020, but with COVID-19 halting campus events for years, the cohorts of students who had hosted and participated in the event previously were mostly graduated.

154 players across 16 teams competed in the event on Feb. 3, making the revival of the old-fashioned pond hockey tournament a massive success. Through team registration fees, a raffle, a bake sale, donations, and a bar night at the Nox, the tournament ultimately raised over $6800 for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Cairns and the other organizers were recognized for their efforts on April 6 by the Clubs Administrative Service (CAS) Student Life Awards, where the PSA took home the Registered Student Government (RSG) Event of the Year award.

The tournament didn’t go off without a hitch, however. Due to rapidly seesawing temperatures, the organizers deemed the ice surface unfit for a full day of competition and reduced the length of all games.

Cairns explained that without adaptability from participants, organizers, and volunteers, the event wouldn’t have come to fruition. The adaptability even extended to a city employee, who flooded the rink an extra time the night before the event.

“He was really dedicated to making sure that we could have it run,” praised Cairns. The fourth-year added that all options were explored to ensure the event happened, including playing at the Rink of Dreams or indoor rinks, because the backup date for the tournament was forecast to be even warmer.

Cairns explained “[The former organizers] set up a good foundation of what the event had looked like in the past,” making it an easy sell when she took it to other RSGs to ask for their help.

“Different RSGs were able to participate in different ways. Some were able to get involved on the day of, some more in the planning stages, but just having a good team around us [was crucial]. Beyond the RSGs, we even had a master’s student who had participated in the tournament in the past that I really leaned on for guidance for how things had worked before.”

Cairns agreed that events like this help bridge the gap between the university community and other residents of Sandy Hill, adding that families from the area stopped by throughout the day.

“Even just having the support of the community centre supervisor and the volunteers who maintain the ice, I think the event was really good at showcasing how many different elements there are to the Sandy Hill community beyond just the students — especially from a student perspective.”

Cairns found it hard to pick any specific sponsors whose efforts stood out when asked, and commended the efforts of the diverse set of businesses who donated items to the raffle and attended the event — but finally landed on one.

“I found Domino’s to be very helpful,” said the fourth-year, explaining that they donated a total of 40 pizzas  to players and volunteers. “They were also the sponsor of our champion shirts, so they fully paid for those.”

Cairns explained she was surprised by the generosity of the pizza chain. “I’m surprised that such a large company was able to get involved in the tournament, I didn’t think that we would be able to make that connection,” adding that the company expressed interest in supporting the event in the future.

Cairns explained that keeping the event under control of RSGs is “the way to go”, to ensure continuity and the future success of the event. But with her graduation from the U of O forthcoming and acceptance into the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, it won’t be through her.

However, she does believe she has found it through Zach Lebel, Vice-President of Philanthropy with the Economics Students Association (ESA). Lebel — a volunteer with the tournament this year — laced up his skates when the ‘Drunk Divers’ needed an extra body. The Divers advanced to the finals of the tournament and eventually prevailed over the ‘Jäger Bombed’ in overtime.

Lebel explained that being on both sides of the action gave him valuable insight for future tournaments. “The conversations I was able to have with my teammates and also [what I experienced] as a player are greatly going to contribute to the planning of the event for next year.”

The first-year added how learning from Cairns and members of the ESA also contributed to his understanding of what makes big events operate smoothly. Lebel acknowledged colder weather would be ideal — for both the organizers and players’ safety — but agreed that weather is going to again be the biggest unknown going forward, joking “Mother Nature will do as she pleases and we’re just along for the ride.”

You can follow the Sandy Hill Winter Classic on Instagram.

  • Andrew was the sports editor for 2023-2024 and was took over as co-EIC in April. He is in his fourth year of a Commerce degree, with an option in Business Tech Management.

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Source: thefulcrum.ca

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