The Northern BC Centre for Skating (NBCCS) serves about 400 students every year, says Director Rory Allen.
About a half-dozen of those young athletes take time out of their lives to act as the Prince George Cougars’ Ice Crew during a season, making sure the surface is scraped and cleaned for the players.
That volunteerism and dedication has now been rewarded thanks to the Cougars’ 50/50 Society, who presented the organization with a $4,000 donation this week.
The NBCCS holds several fundraisers each year to help athletes get to their competitions and maintain the bills to use local arenas.
Due to COVID-19, this season has hit its athletes hard with arena closures and event cancellations.
"People often don't understand that this is not just a hobby, it's not just a pastime, it’s our full-time career" said Allen to PrinceGeorgeMatters at a rally last month among other members of the winter-sporting community.
"We won't even understand the full magnitude of this until years later. We're trying to set these kids with good tools in life, set them up for success and it's unfathomable that we could be in this situation while the rest of the province opens."
The city ultimately voted to keep all three sheets at the Kin Arenas open, which is one of the facilities the NBCCS frequents in a given season.
In a release, the Cougars’ donation to the club is earmarked for general operating costs.
“They are extremely professional from their coaches to their young skaters,” says Cougars spokesperson Iain Scott.
“They’re an integral part of our game operations.”
During each home game, the NBCCS volunteers clean the ice during media timeouts in all three periods of play between Prince George and their WHL opponents.
Skaters, at times, also take centre ice themselves to perform routines for the crowd.