Silver-Hope Dance Academy’s senior hip hop dancers perform “After Hours” at the PEAK Invitational competition, earlier this year in Abbotsford. The dancers and their director Crystal Luck were one of the highlights of Hope and area sports this year, says Barry Stewart. TMM Dance Media photo

Barry’s best: A year in Hope and area sports

The best in local sports from July to the end of 2017

Continuing with last week’s theme of notable sports stories from 2017, I’ll pick up on the last half of the year, starting with the return of the mixed slo-pitch league.

JULY

Slo-pitch had slowed to a standstill in Hope, with no action since 2010.

This was a far cry from the mid-1980s, when Coquihalla Highway construction brought hundreds of construction workers to town, some with their families. The spring 2-pitch league had, I believe, 16 teams. Then the women formed their own summer 2-pitch league and the men had a 10-team slo-pitch league. Youth softball was also a big draw.

A recent import from Boston Bar, George Campbell, stepped up to act as president and the 8-team mixed league started off April 10. Campbell himself got scooped away to fight forest fires, so missed a lot of the season. Here’s hoping he gets a lot more hits in 2018.

AUGUST

The Silver-Hope Dance Academy is only starting its third year but it’s already getting attention from bigger academies in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland.

In competitions this year against well-established academies, local dancers won high honours in jazz and hip hop.

In addition to the talent and commitment of the dancers, Silver-Hope’s success comes from director Crystal Luck’s ability to attract talented instructors from down-valley, some of whom have danced at national and international levels.

OCTOBER

Since the mid-1970s, Hope Minor Hockey has provided opportunities for local players to have a fun sports experience, make lasting friendships and occasionally use it as a springboard to higher levels.

Hockey goalie Dawson Pelletier, 16, played atom rep in Hope then moved on to Chilliwack rep teams. He has now moved up to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the BC Major Midget League.

I was impressed with Pelletier’s conversational skills. He sounded confident and at ease on the phone, two attributes that should help him greatly, whatever paths he takes in his life.

I was also impressed with the cost of suiting up a goalie.

“Just my pads, glove and blocker are about three grand,” said Pelletier.

“Skates are another thousand, and I went through a few pairs when I had a growth spurt. It’s pricey.”

The Thunderbirds have slipped a bit off the top ranking they had when the story came out and are currently in third place of 11 teams, with a 16-6-1-1 record. In 17 games, Pelletier has 12 wins and 4 losses, with a 2.70 goals-against average.

Being top-4 in the province by Christmas earned them a berth in Pool 1 of the Macs international tournament in Calgary. Pelletier backstopped his team to a 7-2 win over the Hungarian National U-18 team in their first match.

See more results at macstournament.ab.ca/division/0/1335/standings.

NOVEMBER

After doing an initial story in the summer on a new 5- and 10K run for Hope, I followed up with organizer Paul Stock and found the plans for the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Flexburn run are going well.

The event will be held on Sunday, March 18 and there are discounts for early-bird registrations. Sign-up is exclusively online at hopechamber.ca.

This could be a great asset for Hope in years to come. I hope people get behind it, even as volunteers, if they don’t feel they can do the walk or run.

CLOSING NOTE

Since retiring from my teaching job in 2014, I’ve been doing a lot of my stories over the phone and through social media, from my home in Chilliwack. That changed in October, when I took on a one-day-a-week teaching job at Coquihalla, along with being a teacher-on-call.

This means I’ll be in Hope at least once a week, so I can meet people face-to-face more often and exercise my cameras a bit more. It’s good to be back!

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