[ LEAGUE NEWS WIRE ]
13-Feb: The next SAWHA league meeting will be held on Wednesday February 20, 2019 at 7 pm at the Riverbend Community Center (19 Rivervalley Drive SE) in the Wildrose Room.
The Southern Alberta Women’s Hockey Association (SAWHA) was established prior to the 1977-1978 season. SAWHA is focused and committed to the development and growth of female hockey.
SAWHA has four main objectives:
- To enjoy the game of hockey and to keep the game at a fun, yet competitive level.
- To ensure all interested females, 18 years of age and older, have an equal opportunity to participate and wherever possible, provide competition at the individual players’ level of skill.
- To promote, encourage and increase the growth and awareness in female hockey in Alberta.
- To encourage and foster personal development and leadership qualities of individuals through their participation in female amateur hockey.
SAWHA’s first season was 1977-1978. Two years later, Hockey Alberta held their first provincial championship, in which the Calgary Majestics, a member of our league, won the Provincial Female title. Even though we only had six teams at that time, a SAWHA team won Provincials twice from 1980 to 1985.
In March of 1989, SAWHA was incorporated under the Societies Act. During that summer, SAWHA expanded by assuming the teams from the Calgary and District Women’s Hockey League (CDWHL). The size of the League almost doubled to ten teams.
From 1990 to 1996, SAWHA added one or two teams each season to expand to about 15 teams. This even included two Calgary Midget teams from Girls Hockey Calgary and one Midget team from Olds. The addition of the Midget teams helped the growth and development of female minor hockey as the two midget teams ended up moving back to a new Midget Division under Girls Hockey Calgary in the late 90’s.
Between 1997 and 2001 SAWHA aided another program development which took place with the elite program of the Oval X-treme. The Oval program had two teams which played in SAWHA until the development of the NWHL, which the Oval and Edmonton Chimos joined. During this span, players like Jennifer Botterill and Hayley Wickenheiser played on the Oval X-treme when they weren’t training for the Olympics with the National Team.
In 2002 SAWHA hosted its first ever Western Shield Championship, which is a regional championship consisting of the host team, and the Provincial Champions from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. At the final game two SAWHA teams, the Red Deer Bandits and the Calgary Chargers competed. The Chargers went on to win that game and also went on to win an unprecedented five straight Provincial and Western Shield Championships from 2002 to 2006.
In December 2005, at the request of a league member, SAWHA organized a very successful All-Star Charity event and rose over $15,000 for the Kids Cancer Care Foundation. In 2012, SAWHA also organized a large sale of Graf hockey equipment and the net proceeds of $11,000 were donated to the YWCA.
The most important and successful initiative in SAWHA’s history was undertaken in December of 2007. The Fairview Community Association had turned back the Fairview Arena and Community Hall to the City of Calgary. The Arena was built in 1972 and the Community Building was built in 1976 and both were in dire need of significant repairs, which the new tenants would have to fund. SAWHA submitted an Expression of Interest to take over the management and operations of the Fairview Arena. Effective April 1, 2008 SAWHA was awarded a fifteen-year License of Occupation to manage and operate the Fairview Arena.
Over the last seven years almost $1.4 million has been spent on improving the functionality, safety, and access of the Arena. Almost a million dollars was raised through federal, provincial and municipal grants and donations. Fairview is one of the busiest arenas in Calgary and services a wide variety of users, including figure skaters, and hockey and ringette players of all ages.
On February 20, 2018, SAWHA was devastated by the collapse of the Fairview arena roof. SAWHA had put significant resources into making the arena a place where community can come together to enjoy exercise, develop their on-ice skills and make lasting memories. We are grateful that no one was hurt and the building was clear when the roof collapsed.
SAWHA’s success would not be without the organizational skills, drive and passion of our membership. Volunteers are a key strength of SAWHA as volunteers are required to fill Board positions, coach and manage teams, organize Casinos, Provincials, Western Shields, Socials, and Charity events and help with Fairview Community events like Spring clean-ups and playground equipment builds.
SAWHA also represents its members in the various organizing bodies such as Hockey Alberta, Calgary Sport Council and City of Calgary’s Ice User Task Force.
As of the 2018/19 season, SAWHA will have 55 teams in seven tiers with over 1,000 active members registered in the league. This season will see SAWHA schedule over 1,000 games, playing in 22 arenas within the City of Calgary and in eight arenas within 150 km of Calgary.