Children can learn a lot through sports.
Teamwork, goal setting, perseverance — even history.
That’s the goal of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Memorial High School Hockey Tournament.
It was held over the weekend at the Paradise Double Ice Complex as 16 teams from across the island participated. While they enjoyed the competition and athleticism, this tournament was about more than a love of the game.
“We’ve tended to look at it as an education of sorts, both for the players and for the community,” Lt.-Col. Kyle Strong, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment said.
“It’s a chance to sort of look back on what the regiment did, what our ancestors did – and to acknowledge their efforts during the war.”
The tournament began in 2016 as the Beaumont-Hamel Cup, designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the devastating battle.
Since then, the tournament has evolved to include more educational components.
Despite being nearly wiped out after Beaumont-Hamel, the regiment went on to earn the ‘Royal’ designation from the British Crown in recognition of its actions in battles at places such as Monchy-le-Preux, Courtrai, Masnières, and Gueudecourt.
Those battles are commemorated at the annual hockey tournament in the Trail of the Caribou Championship. The final games are played for the Beaumont-Hamel Centennial Cup.
The young players have a chance to learn about the history during breaks between games where a lounge area displays informational posters.
“It’s a chance for us to educate the younger generation on why these places and why these battles are so important,” said Strong.
Tournament awards are also named after soldiers, such as the Most Valuable Player Award named in honour of Sgt. Thomas Ricketts, the Top Scorer Award named in honour of Lt-Cpl. John Shiwak, and Top Defenseman Award named for the Monchy Nine.
“It’s an opportunity to educate people on why these Newfoundlanders were so important and what they did in such unbelievable circumstances,” said Strong.
Tournament director Jonathan Lee said the young players are learning a lot about history through the weekend games.
“To hear the fact that the guys that went away 100 years ago and fought and died — they were the same age as them or a little bit older — it kind of brings things home for them.”
Matthew Dicks, 18, plays with the Exploits Valley High Eagles.
He said this tournament has a different feel than the others he plays in throughout the year.
“It’s important. Tt’s a meaningful tournament,” he said.
“My great-grandfather fought in World War One, so it definitely has special meaning to me, especially growing up with my grandfather always explaining to me the importance of remembering his father who fought in World War One. It’s really important to be here over 100 years later remembering people who fought.”
Matthew’s mother said the tournament is special for hockey parents, too.
“Matthew coming to play this tournament – it’s very meaningful to me. It makes me think of my grandfather who I never did know, but I know the history, and it’s very meaningful. It’s not just a tournament, it’s a way to recognize what our ancestors, our relatives, did.”
Every year, more educational components are added to the tournament. Organizers hope to bring the teams to places such as The Rooms and the Regimental Museum in future years, and they are looking into adding a girls hockey tournament with information about the Voluntary Aid Detachment.