Why Sport Central is so Important to Sports in Alberta
United Sport & Cycle have long been partners with Edmonton’s Sport Central—an organization dedicated to making resources available to assist needy kids in sports across Edmonton, as well as Central and Northern Alberta.
As many of you already know, we even have a "penalty box" drop-off bin for Sport Central in our front entrance, open during business hours.
Today, we were thrilled for Sport Central when we heard that Boston Bruins forward and local Edmontonian, Jake DeBrusk—in partnership with Bauer Hockey—has made a donation of more than $25,000 worth of hockey gear, including brand-new hockey skates, hockey sticks and helmets.
Sport Central, in turn, will redistribute this much needed equipment to kids in the region who cannot afford the equipment, providing them with the opportunity to play.
“Bauer [and DeBrusk] has given us two years’ worth of hockey donations, so that’s pretty big for us,” said Sheldon Oleksyn, executive director at Sport Central.
“We have some pieces of hockey equipment that we have a ton of, but there are lots of other things that we run out of, so we're glad we are able to request special orders from these players for this kind of stuff.”
DeBrusk isn’t the only local NHLer who has made a donation to Sport Central, though.
“We actually have 3 NHL players that regularly make donations,” said Oleksyn.
Nick Holden of the Vegas Golden Knights and Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues are also regular sponsors of the local organization.
“They’re all local guys, so their NHL team is completely and utterly irrelevant. They’re from Edmonton and have a loyalty to their community. The community where everything started for them.”
Even better is the reaction of the kids, as they receive the brand-new equipment, when they find out it’s come from an NHL star.
“The kids think it’s fantastic, when I tell them the pair of skates and shin pads they’re wearing came from an NHL star”, said Oleksyn.
“The look on their face is priceless, it really lights them up.”
Sport Central Relies on Donations from the Community
As amazing as it is to see donations from NHLers, it’s the local Edmonton community that provides Sport Central with almost all of the equipment they receive. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the organization more important than ever for our sports community.
“We’re really worried this year about all the people that haven’t been working for a long time,” said Oleksyn, citing the current state of the Alberta economy.
“Parents who have lost their livelihoods and jobs, and when spring rolls around, and sports hopefully open up, there’s going to be a lot of families in tough positions, with their kids wanting to enroll in sports.”
Furthermore, many Edmontonians don’t know about organizations such as Sport Central.
“We’ve got to get the word out, so we can help more families,” said Oleksyn.
So, What Can the Community do to Support Sport Central?
Oleksyn says that this year has been unprecedented in terms of how much equipment has been donated.
“We’re actually storing excess equipment in a nearby building, waiting for the big demand that happens as sports start up,” he said.
The equipment donations have been good, in other words. But what worries Oleksyn is the sports enrollment fees.
“What we need more than anything right now is cash and fund donations to help support families with those enrollment fees. Those donations can be placed directly through our website.”
The importance of kids being enrolled in sports from a young age is greater than ever. Donations to Sport Central help these kids get enrolled, so they don’t fall behind in their sports development.
“The longer the kids wait to play something like baseball for example, the more behind or inadequate they feel when they finally begin,” said Oleksyn.
As for sports equipment donations, there can never be too many.
So, which items are in most demand? Sport Central is always in need of both brand-new kids hockey and bicycle helmets, as well as new or gently used kids bikes, hockey skates, and hockey goalie equipment.
United Sport & Cycle has a drop-off bin for Sport Central donations in our front entrance, open during business hours. We also can collect cash donations on their behalf at our tills.
A full list of accepted equipment can be found on the Sport Central website.