The 2016 Alberta Cup marks the 30th anniversary of the very first Alberta Cup, played in Edmonton in 1986. We asked a handful of past participants of the Alberta Cup to share their memories with us.
Tim Leer first started working with Hockey Alberta in 1997, and has been a part of just about every Alberta Cup since then. Now the Executive Director of the Hockey Alberta Foundation, Leer has seen countless players and coaches come through the Alberta Cup who would go on to experience success at all levels. He has seen the Alberta Cup grow into a top level development program which focuses all parts of the game. Leer says the primary goal is player development, but the Alberta Cup has also become a development opportunity for coaches, officials, support staff and administrators, which truly makes the Alberta Cup what is today.
Can you recall your first time at the Alberta Cup?
My first Alberta Cup was in Lethbridge, and it was the first time as Hockey Alberta we awarded the Alberta Cup to a host association. The excitement by the host, community and the energy in the rink was something that I will never forget as young program coordinator for Hockey Alberta.
How have you seen the Alberta Cup grow and change over the years?
Every year we try and raise the bar with the program and its operation/execution. But the players, coaches and officials have all gotten better over the years – the talent level of the players with skills and hockey IQ, the coaches with their level of preparation and knowledge of the game and the officials on their level of commitment to their craft in terms of professionalism and training.
In your mind, how does the Alberta Cup benefit the players?
It is a great opportunity to play best-on-best and gauge where you at with others players outside of your community. But, more importantly, it is a great life and growth experience for the players. Making new friends, team building, new coaches, learning about Team Alberta and being an Alberta Built player are all life lessons that will last far beyond hockey. Embrace the opportunity with a positive mind set and the rest will take care of itself.
What about the coaches, trainers and other team staff?
They are the ones that make it all happen. Without these key people the 30 years of the Alberta Cup doesn’t happen and the program does not become a top level development program in country without the great volunteers in Alberta. To me I am amazed by the level and commitment of the local coaches, trainers, Director of Operations that involved year after year in the Alberta Cup to give back and to also grow and develop themselves. The commitment and level of professionalism we get year after year is very impressive and something we are lucky to have in Alberta.
What’s your favourite Alberta Cup memory?
I would have to say the first year we were in Medicine Hat, as that was the first Alberta Cup that I was responsible for as the lead program staff person. Working closely with the host, other staff and volunteers it was came with a few challenges but was also rewarding and I will remember it and the people for a long time.
Who were the most memorable people you’ve dealt with at the Alberta Cup?
Jerrold Lemko – Director of Operations for the North East Team and then held the Provincial Coordinator position. We developed a friendship that still last today and we also took the program to a new level together – formalizing the coach mentorship program, trainer program and the evaluation process. Jerrold was a key member in building the program.
Leer with Lemko at the closing ceremonies of the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
John Kobal – Lead Provincial Coordinator for the referee program from the South Zone. Relationships are key, and I felt John and I had an excellent relationship and rapport and I think together we moved the referee portion of the Alberta Cup forward. John has a great sense of humour and I always enjoyed spending my Alberta Cup weekends with him.
Coaches, Trainers and Director of Operations – both good and bad! But, they are all there for the players. Regardless of the interaction I had with them and in all situations it was always professional and respectful and through the program many friendships have been formed. Bill Peters, Marty Palechuk, Jerrold Lemko, John Kobal, Blair Becker, Boris Rybalka, Tom Keca and Tyler Broderson, Barry Medori and Larry Pearson, to name a few are all friends as a result of the Alberta Cup program and to me it doesn’t get any better then that.
Do you have any advice for this year’s players?
As mentioned earlier, approach the weekend with a positive mind set and one that you will fully take advantage from a growth and enjoyment perspective. Be a positive team player and treat people right and the hockey will take of itself.