Although it was 10 years ago, Gerry St. Cyr remembers what motivated him to launch Sportassist like it was yesterday.
“I saw a youngster with a hockey stick and bag going to play drop-in roller hockey when Eagle Ridge Arena first opened,” recalled St. Cyr, operator of City Centre park and owner of Langford Lanes and City Centre Grille and Sports Bar. “I saw him again a few weeks later and asked him why he didn’t play in a league, and he told me he couldn’t afford it. Here he was, dedicated to the game he loved, taking a bus in from Esquimalt, and that really stuck with me.”
St. Cyr decided to get involved with helping kids facing financial barriers, so he discussed the situation with Langford Mayor Stew Young.
Young agreed that something had to be done and made a $2,000 donation through his annual charity golf tournament. Sportassist was able to help seven kids the first year, and has been helping more kids with registration costs every year since, St. Cyr said. “The whole point is to give kids a chance to play. Whether it’s gymnastics, football or hockey, there’s a social side to sports as well as the athletic side. Kids make friendships that last a lifetime.”
This year marks the ninth annual charity Sportassist Golf Tournament on Aug. 25 at Olympic View Golf Course. Sportassist now helps more than 100 kids a year play the sport of their choice. The tournament has grown bigger each year, St. Cyr noted. “Local businesses have really stepped up,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without their support, and the 40 to 45 volunteers who help out every year.”
This year’s event, which features NHL Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr, has sold out, but people interested in meeting Fuhr will get the opportunity on Aug. 24 at the City Centre Grille. There will be a to-be-determined charge, with all proceeds going to Sportassist. There is still lots of time for sponsors, volunteers and businesses that want to donate prizes to get involved in the golf tournament. Contact St. Cyr at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.