It was announced recently that there will be exciting new changes to the sport in Niagara and Simcoe County with Ballhockey.com purchasing the two locations in Niagara from Ball Hockey International as well as purchasing the Orillia Ball Hockey League. Brian Broley, President & CEO of Ballhockey.com is excited to “grow the game” in these new communities with the skilled staff and professional officials of the Ballhockey.com brand leading the way in providing well organized, customer focussed service to the participants. Brian indicated that ”Management and staff of Ballhockey.com are excited to welcome the new locations customers and staff into our family and build new opportunities to expand the sport”.
We had an opportunity to sit down with Brian to discuss his thoughts on the current state of ball hockey, where he’d like to see it go, and what this new working relationship between Ballhockey.com and BHi means for the players.
Brian has been a leader in the growth of the sport for over 24 years, investing significantly in the purchase of property, construction and design of the facilities and systems used to manage the Ballhockey.com locations. International events such as the Bauer Clash of the Titans and the Bauer/Ballhockey.com World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships are annual events bringing together the best players in the game in North America. Ballhockey.com’s Ontario Youth Provincials provide young participants the opportunity to take their game to a higher level.
Our success is driven by the passionate and committed people that officiate the games and organize the Sport we operate. The Niagara Management team, led by Sara St. Jean, Mike McGuire, Kevin St. Jean and a solid team of officials led by Kevin McNeil, Brian Barnes, Lance Gallagher and Cam Huffman are responsible for the positive customer experience the players receive. In Barrie and Orillia, Mike Thompson, Alyssa Vokes, Andrew Stewart and the Barrie customer service team as well as the strong Official team led by Dean Harvey, Scott Thompson, Dave Alexander are key to the customer experience in Barrie and Orillia. Those people working with passion and care are the driving force behind our success.
Being involved in the sport for this long means that Brian has bore witness to many changes in the sport. “The sport has a whole in Canada has had its challenges. in the Niagara market, the sport has a 30 year history and has seen players still active into their 60’s” said Brian. “The positive in Niagara is we have seen the kids programs grow significantly. This is going to be a very exciting spring for us as far as kids go. We’ve registered about 80 Tiny Tots, and in total about 750-800 kids playing just in St. Catharines, and Welland has about 225-250. The kids are really exciting to watch, because that’s the future of the sport.” You could say, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same,’ as Brian spoke about the players who’ve been involved in the sport right from the beginning. Their speed and intensity may have changed over the years, but their passion for the game certainly hasn’t. It’s clear that he wants to make the game as inviting as possible for youth teams as well, as he knows if they’re introduced to the sport properly, they’ll be the next generation of older players.
One area that Brian says he’d like to see grow is women’s ball hockey. He claims that it’s been a bit of a challenge in Niagara, and while men’s and youth leagues have had similar growth in line with the Barrie market, the women’s divisions are somewhat stagnant. He says that this is not due to lack of talent – in fact there are some very talented women (who will occasionally play in men’s leagues when there’s not enough competition to go around) who are entirely committed to the sport, but he’d like to see more. Seeing more women players in the sport would be fantastic, and is an issue we’ve touched on before. As Ballhockey.com has financially supported teams competing in the North American Ball Hockey Championships (NABHC), and it would be great to see more substantial support behind women in the sport.
When asked about Ballhockey.com and BHi’s new working relationship, Brian said, “I think there’s an opportunity to grow the sport, and we’re most excited to take a leadership role in getting rinks to capacity.” Truly, Brian knows his stuff, made evident by the awesome Ballhockey.com Athletic Centre in St. Catharines – the location at which we met up with him. We’re excited to see his influence in the furthering of the game in the Niagara Region.
We’re excited to see how the new working relationship between Ballhockey.com and BHi impacts the sport in the Niagara Region, and believe that Brian’s years of experience in the sport, as well as the common goal of growing the game we all love will be a driving force in making ball hockey the best it can be.
For more information on Ballhockey.com, visit their website at www.ballhockey.com.
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