Sportsmanlike conduct, Island-style

When it comes to sports, the ball is in the West Shore's court

Find a seat at Bear Mountain Stadium this summer and take in a game showcasing the talents of players like girls Highlanders player Janelle Smith.

Find a seat at Bear Mountain Stadium this summer and take in a game showcasing the talents of players like girls Highlanders player Janelle Smith.

When it comes to sports, the ball is in the West Shore’s court.

Make that the hockey puck, the football, and the mixed martial arts gloves as well, all of which ricochet off the end boards, get spiked into the turf and strain ring ropes in the region of choice for many of the sports franchises and sports fans of Greater Victoria.

“(All) that has happened in the last three years, which has been incredible for any community,” said Langford parks planner Mike Leskiw of the new sports infrastructure in the West Shore.

In that time, the municipality has constructed two full-sized artificial fields and a stadium at City Centre Park. To open this year, the new Sportsplex introduces a National Hockey League (NHL) standardized ice surface and 10-pin bowling to the mix.

The two new fields, one made to National Football (NFL) standards and the other to Canadian Football League (CFL) standards, also bear the mark of FIFA and World Rugby Board standards. The fields currently stand as one-of-a-kind facilities on Vancouver Island and tell the story of how the West Shore is giving the rest of Greater Victoria a run for sporting dollars.

“(Langford) mayor and council believe in health and recreation and promote it heavily by building facilities that attract sports activities,” said Drew Finerty, general manager of the Victoria Highlander’s soccer team. “There are a lot of young families in the West Shore and the best thing for family is sports. If you live here, everything is close and you can play almost any sport.”

In addition to playing, watching their favourite sports teams is a big West Shore draw and Bear Mountain Stadium is expected to grow to a 3000-seat facility in 2012 — bringing in further spending and economic help to the West Shore.

Meanwhile attendance at Victoria Highlander’s soccer, Rebels football, Shamrocks Lacrosse, Grizzlies hockey and the Armageddon Fighting Championship’s MMA events continue to remain stable and lead the charge to continued growth in the West Shore’s sports segment.

“We believe it is a younger community, a growing community and we are very much looking forward to growing with it,” said AFC president Darren Owen. “The infrastructure is in place which makes it an easier choice to bring my organization, and the thousands of fans who attend every event and the dollars they spend, here.”

Owen believes sport brings significant traffic and dollars from outlying areas. His own estimates peg more than 80 per cent of his ticket-purchasing clientele commuting from outside the West Shore. He sells more than 500 tickets in Island towns such as Nanaimo and Campbell River and several hundred more in Greater Vancouver.

Their home in Bear Mountain Arena, run by West Shore Parks and Recreations Society, also hosts a plethora of sports teams. The site is so well used even the fitness centre was so busy staff were forced to turn people away before a recent renovation effectively doubled its capacity.

WSPRS administrator Linda Barnes said more than 150,000 participants registered in paid programs last year with thousands more served by soccer, minor hockey, figure skating, curling and BMX. There were more than 250,000 participants in their drop-in programs alone.

With the infrastructure in place for professional teams, Island youth are able to get in on the action early.

“(The students) are looking for something to connect to … It connects them to school and the community,” said Kevin Harrington, Belmont secondary school PE teacher and football coach. “We have some amazing kids, that have come through here that wouldn’t have graduated for sure if it wasn’t for sports.”

The Belmont grad who still lives in the area, didn’t have infrastructure like this when he grew up and believes that the importance of sports transcends dollars and cents.

“The facilities are the best in (the region) Victoria by far,” Harrington said. “When you are talking about community in (Greater) Victoria — the growth of that recreation component has been by far best looked after on the West Shore.”

Find your teams online:

Rebels Football | www.westshorerebels.com

Highlanders FC

www.victoriahighlandersfc.com

Shamrocks Lacrosse

www.victoriashamrocks.com

Grizzlies Hockey | www.victoriagrizzlies.com

Armageddon Fighting Championships

http://armageddonfc.com/

WestShore Parks & Recreation

www.westshorerecreation.ca

City Centre Park, Eagle Ridge Arena

www.eagleridgecentre.comwww.cityoflangford.ca

Just Posted

Andrea Lewis (left), board member of the Shoreline Medical Society, receives a $3,000 cheque from Andrew Hansen, owner of Boondocks Bar and Grill. They are joined by Elizabeth Rhoades, executive director Shawna Walker, as well as board members Richard Flader and Andrew Tidman. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney bar owner helps doctor recruitment for Saanich Peninsula clinics

Boondocks Bar and Grill raised $3,000 in May for Shoreline Medical Society

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Father’s Day crash in Saanich closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic impacted

Victoria Regional Transit System routes 7 UVic/Downtown, 21 Interurban/Downtown and 53 Colwood/Langford will undergo changes as of June 28. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria school routes scaled down for summer by BC Transit

Service changes take effect June 28, enhanced service returns this fall and winter

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read