Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association ready for another season

BIG RAPIDS – Sunday is a big day for the Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association.

It’s the season kick-off event from 3-6pm at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. It is open to all interested persons.

There are free jersey try-ons, a used gear swap, and free hot dogs from 3-4 p.m.

BRAJA officials emphasize that this event allows everyone to obtain essential information during a meeting from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the heavy equipment building. Public skating will be available from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the arena. The council has a public meeting from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Brian Miller is the Mecosta County Sheriff, but he is also actively involved with BRAJHA as a board member. He works with development and is the media coordinator for BRAJHA.

Joe VanCulin is a former Ferris player and is part of the BRAJHA coaches in the squirt division. He has two daughters in the program.

“We want to educate people and encourage them to sign up for hockey and the season which usually starts around October,” Miller said.

Tim Blashill, rink manager and coach at Big Rapids High School, helps lead the various teams in the BRAJHA organization.

“We have our mite program at 8U, squirts at 10U, peewee at 12U and bantams at 14U,” Blashill said. “We are also doing a combo team with Cadillac for JV. “The event (Sunday) is for everyone. The exchange of equipment is an important thing. We do this to help everyone. For new players, we don’t want them paying a fortune for gear and being able to go out and play and you go from there.

“We want to get out there and promote the game of hockey and the association,” Miller said. “We want to educate our people about what the association is, where we are going and what we have in place. I think it’s important for people to understand that the coaches we have are phenomenal. I can speak from experience with my two boys involved in BRAJHA from an early age.

“My eldest son benefited from the coaches he had and my youngest had a good relationship with the coaches he had. You see the experience they can bring to these children and how they can teach them.

VanCulin highlighted the important contributions provided by the Little Kevin (Courtney) fund to help families.

“We help families,” VanCulin said. “Hockey is quite an expensive sport, but at the end of the day, the Little Kevin Courtney fund is there to help the family and the kids who want to try or play together. It’s a great program to help families come skate and have a great experience.

“We say we want to work and find a way to get kids who want to play on the ice somehow, and Kevin Courtney (Kevin’s dad) has been a huge factor in that.” , Blashill said. “We have BRAJHA and there is learning to skate and learning to play. Kevin and his wife support all three of them.

Players come not only from Big Rapids but also, Miller points out, from Pine River, Morley Stanwood, Reed City and others from the area.

“It’s been a long season, but the coaches we have are second to none,” Blashill said. “They do it out of love and it makes a difference. We have a good group of guys who volunteer.

Last year, 91 young people took part in the programme, including girls.

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