The Board Members for the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings were delighted to share news from the previous hockey season during their latest AGM last night at the Ramada Hotel. After some brief housekeeping items, Head Coach Cody Mapes delivered the first presentation virtually while on vacation with his family.
Mapes provided some insight into how the upcoming Camps will be run later in August, announcing an attendance of 80 players which will be broken into four teams for full-length practices. Mapes believes this strategy will pay off while observing for prospectives for the final team.
"It does take more time and cooperation to do it this way, but we believe it will create a more competitive environment and allow us to better see the full picture."
Mapes added that there are currently 5 new players drafted to the Red Wings, teasing that "two of these '07/'08 drafts are well-known names in the hockey community," and that we will likely watch some rising stars this season. Further, Mapes noted that there were 8 total scholarships earned by our players last year, a number that he says is "a huge number for only one team." This academic success of our players was frequently attributed to the hard work and dedication of Anne Phair, Director of Education for the team.
Phair's role began 2 years prior and leads her to assist billeting players with selecting classes best suited for their future goals and navigating the registration process. "More than that, though, I also provide tutoring services, locate additional resources to assist with learning, and ensure that our players keep their grades to League standards and that schoolwork is complete," she adds. "We actually had 3 boys take the SATs last year and they finished with great results!"
Kyle McIntyre, Commissioner of the SJHL, provided the room with a report of his own which highlighted some of the goals, recent successes, and the future vision of the SJHL as we enter the next season. He explained that a large focus is being placed on expanding their presence on media platforms such as HockeyTV, and continuing to work with IKS Media to produce high-quality content for fans. This includes regular SJHL segments coming to the popular Rod Pederson Show during this season.
McIntyre then took a strong stance on the topic of the ratio of local to imported players in the League, stating very simply that he would like to "put the 'S' back in 'SJHL'."
"Currently, 39% of our players in the SJHL are from Saskatchewan. I believe 50% of the League should be local. Presenting strong Sask. content is important for the health of the League and its communities. More hometown players equals more scholarships and more fan engagement. We want our athletes to stay here and play here."
Lastly, McIntyre pointed out some encouraging statistics regarding fan attendance throughout the last season. He shared that a total of 300,000 people attended SJHL games, and the Red Wings showed an increased average of 577 fans per regular season game. Playoffs saw those numbers surge to an average of 1400 per game. "Overall," he said, "our attendance has nearly returned back to those pre-Covid numbers."
The next report to come revealed the financial statements after closing out the previous season. Both their income and expenses had risen considerably due to factors such as increased fan attendance and operating costs soaring with inflation, respectively. Expenses had grown slightly faster than their income, but nonetheless, the season resulted in a net profit of about $57,000 which translates to roughly a 900% increase in profits from the season prior. The current budget for the 2023/2024 season sits at just over $800,000. Nick Nielsen, Office and Public Relations Manager, shared his thoughts on the stark turnaround in revenue.
"We are a little bit further removed from the Pandemic, which makes a huge difference. Most businesses are not struggling near as bad anymore, and that makes it a bit easier for them to support us. Ticket sales are another major source of revenue for the Red Wings, and we were able to increase our average attendance by roughly a hundred people per game. Playoffs were also huge for us. It sounds silly, just two games, but from those two games we made about an extra $16,000 at the end of the season, after expenses."
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