There will be a battle of the sexes on Sunday morning, but it's for a good cause.
A team of men ages 50-older takes on an all-ages women's team in a benefit game for the Culture Club youth hockey program at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Treadwell Arena in Douglas. Proceeds from the game will help the Culture Club program buy ice time and equipment for first-year players to use while they learn the game.
While the game is for a good cause, there has been some bantering between the Geezers in Breezers (the men's team) and the Chicks with Sticks (the women's team).
Bill Spear, one of the Geezers, said he and Suzanne Hebert were helping coach the Culture Club program when the game was proposed. He said the game is developing into a Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King battle of the sexes, with each gender's pride on the line, but it's all in good fun.
"I think a game like this will help get people who haven't been to the facility to come down and watch a game," Spear said.
While the battle of the sexes makes a good story, the focus of the game is to raise money for the Culture Club program, which is designed to introduce hockey to kids who haven't played. Right now there are about two dozen players of all ethnic backgrounds from Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School meeting once a week, but organizers want to expand the program into the elementary schools.
"We didn't want to see the rink go the route of Eaglecrest, with just rich kids enjoying the facility," Spear said, adding that the group wants to make sure any young person who wants to play hockey is able to participate. "We've got a lot of equipment and we want to get them enough coaching to feed the youth leagues. We're farming the future. Up in the Yukon there are whole leagues just for Natives."
Spear said the program was started by a Vista volunteer when the rink opened, and this year Tommy McKenna has been the main coach.
When the program started, the adults sometimes didn't know until an hour before scheduled practices if there would be money to pay for the ice time. This year, one of the cruise lines chipped in for some ice time and a Fairbanks youth hockey program donated a lot of used gear for the Juneau kids to wear. The program practices from 4-5 p.m. on Mondays, and experienced hockey players are welcome to help out.
"It's sort of a nascent program," Spear said. "We would like to get some younger kids involved, because it's easier to convince an 8-year-old that something's cool than it is a 13-year-old."
Sunday's game will not have an admission fee, but hockey fans are encouraged to make donations at the door or when kids go through the stands with a donation can.
"The game's already a success because a lot of people have already donated," Spear said.
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