Fri Sep 21 2018

Gordie Howe Sports Complex Serves a Diversity of Athletic Interests

Written by Jim Germain

Saskatoon Hilltops junior football team celebrating

A competitive speed skater from southern Saskatchewan, a family of cross-country skiers, a world softball champion and a Saskatoon child facing barriers to playing minor sports all treasure the Gordie Howe Sports Complex. They are among the people of all ages, abilities and interests from across Saskatchewan and beyond who will play, learn, train, teach, compete and have fun at the year-round multi-sport facility.

Kids smiling for a photo wearing track and field medals

“It’s generating a lot of excitement by creating something unprece-dented in Western Canada, maybe even nationally,” says fundraising volunteer Shayne Dueck, adding “People across the country are shocked this is happening in Saskatoon.

3 speed skaters turning around a corner

”When construction of the mas-ter plan is complete in 2020, the world-class complex will attract young children just learning to play a sport, older athletes, international competitors, and professionals like the Saskatche-wan Roughriders, along with their supporters.

Equally exhilarating is the long-list of sports to happen there: track and field, softball, baseball, football, speed skating, Nordic and cross-country skiing, skating, soccer, lacrosse, varied secondary school sports, and ultimate frisbee.

It’s generating a lot of excitement by creating something unprecedented in Western Canada, maybe even nationally.

The Gordie Howe Kinsmen Arena for hockey and figure skating makes the area in Saskatoon’s Holiday Park subdivision the go-to place for even more athletes and their support teams.

As a result users will encompass a Nordic race team from North Battleford, top notch Canadian box lacrosse players, the baseball coach who grew up down the street , the five-year-old learning to catch a football or skate, a sprint-er from Prince Albert, and Special Olympic soccer players.

With the addition of a training and rehabilitation centre, which pro-vides year-round opportunities for all sports, the number of visitors to Gordie Howe Sports Complex is expected to climb to 175,000 + each year. That’s a big leap.

Baseball pitcher just before throwing a baseball

The complex now attracts 25,000 athletes, coaches, officials, volun-teers and fans annually to local, provincial, national and interna-tional events. Examples include this summer’s Saskatchewan First Nations Minor Softball Champion-ship and the baseball camp orga-nized by former Blue Jays Roberto Alomar and Lloyd Moseby.

Regular users of the present complex come from numerous Saskatchewan communities including Allan, Blaine Lake, Colonsay, Dalmeny, Davidson, Dinsmore, Duck Lake, Dundurn, Hafford, Hague, Hanley, Humboldt, Langham, Martensville, Muenster, North Battleford, Outlook, Perdue, Prince Albert, Radisson, Wald-heim, Warman and Watrous.

“This project is for anybody and everybody,” says Bryan Kosteroski, Chairperson of the Friends of the Bowl Foundation, which is spear-heading the collaborative develop-ment of the complex.Enabling athletes, especially chil-dren, to become active, develop skills, learn, achieve excellence, and meet new people, while smiling and having fun inspires Kosteroski’s commitment to his volunteer leadership role.

A desire to give others the op-portunities he experienced as an athlete drew businessman Greg Yuel to the project. The Capital Campaign Co-Chair credits sports for developing his self-confidence academically, socially, career-wise and for his community involve-ment.

Child skiing competitively

“As a result of playing over 11 years of football, then coaching football for over 15 years, I felt an obligation to give back to a sport that I’d personally gotten a lot from,” he says.

“The most personal thing is the experience of being able to devel-op my own self and a character that’s uniquely mine and leverage into being part of a team,” says Yuel, adding others with that same feeling of gratitude want to replicate it for future generations.

Development of the Gordie Howe Sports Complex gives people a chance to do exactly that.