Raiders High River strong in new jersey

Hockey: Elite Midget team pays tribute to former home

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 06:00 am

Highwood Raider Cora Place (7) jams away at the puck against the Melville Prairie Fire Dec. 29 at the Mac’s Midget Hockey Tournament. The Raiders had “#HighRiverStrong” stitched on their sweaters in tribute to the community that was hit hard by the June 20th flood.
Highwood Raider Cora Place (7) jams away at the puck against the Melville Prairie Fire Dec. 29 at the Mac’s Midget Hockey Tournament. The Raiders had “#HighRiverStrong” stitched on their sweaters in tribute to the community that was hit hard by the June 20th flood.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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The Highwood Raiders wore their hearts on their backs at a major girls’ hockey tournament over the holidays.

The Raiders had ‘#HighRiverStrong’ stitched across their jerseys for their feature game on Dec. 29 at the Mac’s Midget Hockey tournament in Calgary in tribute to the community devastated by the June 2013 flood.

The idea originated from Raider Cora Place from Indus.

“She introduced the idea to me and then I went and wrote the script for it,” said Raiders captain Kaylin Snodgrass.

Prior to the Raiders’ Dec. 29 game — in which the Highwood-Kootenay Wildcats tilt was the feature game of the day — Snodgrass gave a short speech to the crowd prior to the puck being dropped.

“I just said how High River is still cleaning up and they still need a lot of help — I just wanted to recognize the people who helped and let the people of High River know they still have our support.”

The Raiders have close ties to the High River community.

They called the Bob Snodgrass Recreation Centre in High River home prior to moving to the new Scott Seaman Rink at Heritage Heights this season.

Bob Snodgrass is Kaylin’s late grandfather and is a former mayor of High River.

Her uncle, Craig Snodgrass — Bob’s son — was elected as High River’s mayor in the October municipal election.

Although Kaylin lives on a ranch in the Longview area, she is fully aware of what the High River community went through.

The Grade 12 student travels through High River every day on her way to attend Notre Dame Collegiate. The school has set up shop at Senator Riley School due to the flood.

While Snodgrass and the Raiders can stickhandle their way through opponents, give them a needle and pin and they are all thumbs.

It was Helen Bagley, the mother of Raiders goalie Pippa Bagley from Okotoks, who sewed #HighRiverStrong on the jerseys.

“I volunteer to wash the home jerseys,” Helen said. “A week before Christmas I was informed that we needed all these banners sewn in the back for the home jerseys… so that was a lot of fun.”

For the first jersey, she sewed the banner on by hand.

“That took about an hour-and-half and I said: ‘Well I am not doing that for 18 jerseys,’” Helen said with a laugh. “So I got the machine out and once I got into the swing of it, it took about 15 minutes (per jersey).”

That’s still about four hours of work right in the midst of the busy holiday season.

“Oh yes, I am glad I did it,” Helen said. “It helped get the word out. No matter how bad the disaster is people have very short memories.”

It worked.

The Raiders’ #HighRiverStrong message received media coverage across Canada.

As well, it caught the attention of their opponents.

Fraser Valley Phantoms coach Dean Reed warned his team the Flyers would be sentimental favourites because of their High River flood ties before the two teams squared off in the Mac’s semifinal.

“I told the girls to just forget about it until after the game when they would shake their hands and say: ‘Thank you’,” Reed said.

The team plans to wear the jerseys for the remainder of their home games during the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League season.

bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca


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