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Ball hockey continues to grow in Sudbury
2022-06-11

The Greater Sudbury Ball Hockey League was at something of a crossroads.

Since re-launching an initiative that has been tried a few times over (summer ball hockey), seldom with a whole lot of longevity, the GSBHL had leaned heavily on player familiarity to help keep everyone in check.

The reality, however, is that over time, this familiarity will wane. That was the dilemma facing league founder Corey Langella and those in charge of the GSBHL.

"We've kind of built up a community where everybody knows everybody, everybody talks with everybody," said Langella. "This was pretty well received from the beginning and we've been able to maintain that."

"Things get heated sometimes but we've dealt with incidents pretty strictly," he added. "We've been able to keep it pretty well controlled. I would say that we've done a pretty good job of not letting things get out of hand."

That said, succession planning inevitably requires some new thoughts - and new blood.

"Some of the guys were finding half of their team going off to university, going to work out of town," said Langella. "A lot of our core guys were starting to leave, but it's something I anticipated at some point."

And while he could not have forecasted the arrival of Covid-19, there was something to be said for having a little more time on their hands when it came to items such as league administration.

"The last two years kind of gave us the opportunity to sit down and look at the long-term future of our league," said Langella. "How can we keep the league going beyond what we already have?"

"We had to begin a program to get younger kids in."

With that in mind, the GSBHL has unveiled the Elementary Division this summer, eight teams open to kids in grades to nine, with those that are older encouraged to make the jump up with the young adults.

The kids are at Cambrian Arena every Monday, with the men's league meeting at the same venue on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The league that started initially as an outdoor concept has seemingly found a home that they like.

"The issues we had with outdoors was primarily the bugs and the unpredictability of the weather," confessed Langella. "We brainstormed at end of the first season and decided that indoor might be our best option."

Another area where the GSBHL have shown signs of progressive thinking is through their affiliation with the provincial sports governing body, allowing their teams to compete at tournaments across Ontario.

In fact, a recent social media post noted that the group will be sending a U16 squad to a competition in Kitchener-Waterloo in the middle of July.

"It's nice to have tournament play for the die-hards in our city," laughed Langella.

Because in the end, a core of die-hards with a sprinkling of those who simply enjoy the opportunity to keep in shape with a sport that focuses heavily on the ability to maintain a solid cardio base should be enough to allow the GSBHL to build a legacy of which they can be quite proud.

Sudbury Wolves