Roller Hockey To Leave Burton?

It’s hard to know even where to begin, other than to simply state the reason why this is being posted. After 15 years of operation, the hall association has decided to convert the outdoor rink at Burton’s John McCormack Memorial Park into a tennis/pickleball court. While the nets themselves will only be up during the springs and summers, the alterations that will have to be made to the court in order to accommodate the nets will possibly make it unfeasible for proper competitive roller hockey.

Yes, after 15 years, we will lose the court that we helped build; a consequence of shifting demographics in an aging community. To say that this was a blindside to us is an understatement. Through 15 years of players and friends moving in and out, new leagues coming and going, cold years and hot years, the one constant in Burton Hockey was that the rink in Burton was always there for us. Suddenly, we are now faced with the very real possibility that roller hockey in the Arrow Lakes is, for all intents and purposes, dead as of next month.

For those of us who have been around since the beginning of Burton Hockey – back when we were just homesick young folks coming home to Burton, Nakusp, and Fauquier for the summer and looking for something to do; back before we had an official name; back when our website was a .txt file copied-and-pasted onto an Angelfire site – we’ve been spending our entire adult lives in and around McCormack Park. Who can forget those street hockey games in the Burton School parking lot that planted the seeds in the minds of Joern Hornhardt, Simon Hilton, and Stefan Klopp that one day we could have a real, honest-to-goodness court to play? It was those seeds that ultimately bloomed into the Burton Hockey we know and love today – a unique game unlike any other.

So many names are tied into the history of that humble court at McCormack Park. Heck, Reg Reimer’s name is literally embedded in the court (it was his redi-mix, after all)! Hometown Burton boys like Chris Jackins, Joern Hornhardt, Simon Hilton, Karl Detta, and Lorne and Laird Bilinski, who pushed for the rink and made it a reality. Karl Detta, who spearheaded the repaving back in 2003-04 and gave us the amazing asphalt that is the foundation of the court to this day. Lee Orr and Nathan Robson, who scavenged all of the spare wood and string they could find to put together our humble boards. Russ and Laird Bilinski, who painted the lines and creases. And, finally, Kyle Grenier, who took it open himself to replace the old nets with our current nets that he built himself out of nothing more than PVC piping and a desire to see hockey in Burton keep going.

More than that, the memories we’ve formed in Burton over the past 15 years are too many to measure. From the Jared MacDonalds to the Chris Jackins; the Oliver Koth-Kappuses to the Ben de Wits; old heroes such as Mitch Peterson and Robert Rogers to young guns of today like Ryan Bateman and Kellan Nishida. People like Stefan Klopp, Bernie Koth-Kappus, and Joern Hornhardt, who, like too many, ultimately had to leave our valley to find vocations elsewhere, but who couldn’t stand to go without the game they’d come to love in Burton, and so established Vancouver Roller Hockey to continue the Burton Hockey tradition at West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park with a new roster of players and friends. Rather than split us apart, it served to only double our enjoyment of the game, for in addition to our regular games, we could count on a giant reunion session every year where friends from opposite sides of the province could gather at McCormack Park and celebrate Burton Hockey together.

As of this writing, there have been 15 seasons and 388 sessions of Burton Hockey. That’s the equivalent of six full games every day for nearly 13 months, or approximately 49 consecutive days of hockey without a break, plus countless extra hours of organising for each session from folks like Joern Hornhardt, Lee Orr, Bernie Koth-Kappus, Seamus O’Connor, Stefan Klopp, Kyle Grenier, and a whole host of others (for your humble statistician, you can add another 40 percent or so to those totals for stats compilation, write-ups, awards, and updates). Lifelong friendships have literally been developed, nurtured, and cemented because of Burton Hockey and McCormack Park. The 220-or-so souls who have played in our three leagues over the years owe it all to a modest, chain-linked basketball court with a couple of hockey nets in a friendly mountain village called Burton. No matter what happens to us or where we play, our leagues will always and forever carry the name Burton Hockey as a tribute to this legacy.

Naturally, the players of BUSH must now review our options. With so many young Burtonians having moved on from the valley, our core group of players and organisers have been drawn from Nakusp and vicinity for some time. There is not, and has never been, a free-access roller court/rink in Nakusp. The Fauquier rink has been unplayable for some years now. The nearest outdoor rink is 75 minutes away in Edgewood. For those of us who carried the Burton Hockey torch to the Lower Mainland and created Vancouver Roller Hockey, the roller hockey dream continues as long as there are people, for there will always be plenty of places to play, and for that we are thankful. Burton Hockey will continue to live on through VRH, and our group will soldier on one way or another. Perhaps the loss of our home court – for the BUSH players, our only court – will spark the minds of enterprising souls who will choose to build a new free-access rink somewhere in the Nakusp area and reignite the game in the future. For now, however, our BUSH roller hockey dream is over.


Sally wrote on May 19, 2014 @ 23:23:31 PST
Okay, this is silly. "Very few things happen in Burton"????? Really? All of our community activities are run entirely by volunteers who also fundraise to keep activities going. These include: Volunteer firefighting group, Burton Internet Society, Burton Community Library, Burton Community Learning Centre, the BCLC Fitness centre, weekly volleyball, weekly basketball, pickleball, table tennis, Pilates, "Just for the Health of it" weekly wellness, The Burton Seniors Society, Arrow Lakes Environmental Stewardship Society, Arrow Lakes Grape Growers climate and viticulture study, Burton Baseball, Burton City Daze, Burton Fire Department Christmas Party, and more. We welcome our neighbours up and down the valley to participate in any of these activities - and of course, to come and play in our park.

Untwist your knickers, neighbours, the Hall Board is not taking anything away - just a misunderstanding (on both sides). Burton is just really busy, people here are really fit, we have a vibrant community where we live, party and volunteer. Some people wanted to play tennis - people who actually live here, btw. But it is all being worked out. We Burton-dwellers welcome others to come and live here, too - there are lots of places for sale, even some businesses. Those of us who have moved here in the last 10 years have chosen Burton intentionally, because it is a really great community - and it's ours because we live here. We are a little bewildered by the intensity of this whole thing. Any of you is welcome to live here, hey, come and drop your babies right in the middle of McCormack Park and raise them up so we can reopen our school. We would have a big ol' community potluck, and your kids would have 100 grandparents.
sandy marshall wrote on May 19, 2014 @ 17:59:32 PST
This is not about giving back. This is about taking away. These guys built this facility over 15 years and now some community newcomers want to make it their own. If you were not aware of Bush over the last 15 years then you have little credibility when commenting on it.

I unconditionally support long term initiatives by local young people who not only build something locally cool....but find ways to export it to other parts of Canada. I dont want to hear anymore newbies whining that they wish the school would remain open while they do anything to keep anyone of reproductive age from recreating in Burton.

Shame on Burton Hall Board. VIVA BUSH!
Sally wrote on May 19, 2014 @ 10:27:57 PST
Given that the good people on the Burton hall board (who volunteer many hours and a great deal of patience and intelligence to our community) hadn't even heard of Burton Roller Hockey before this piece was written, I believe this has been blown out of proportion. What happened was that a number of Burton residents wanted to play tennis and pickle ball in the park in the community where they actually live. Maybe its time for these young people who have benefitted so much for so long to give back a bit to the community in which they play? Maybe pay it forward and share the expense associated with making this community space useful to more of the community, more of the time, just like some people once did for them.
colin kowal wrote on May 19, 2014 @ 09:06:15 PST
Very sad to read about this. I hope a way can be found to continue roller hockey.
KK wrote on May 07, 2014 @ 11:53:35 PST
It was a constructive meeting on Monday night and I'm optimistic that everyone involved can make it work.
Dorraine wrote on May 06, 2014 @ 17:26:31 PST
Why can this area not be shared? Very few things happen in Burton I'm sure there would never be a time conflict. It sounds like there are just a few people who are trying to push their way and are not willing to share. Maybe we need to go back to kindergarten and relearn this critical life skill. I'm sure there's ways to make everyone happy.
Riley.Forest.Ron.Lori McCormack wrote on May 05, 2014 @ 13:34:04 PST
This isn't a community decision. Keep coming and you have our support. You should contact the Burton Internet Society and try to get this letter sent to the community, maybe even in the Arrow Lakes News.
Jerome wrote on May 05, 2014 @ 09:02:15 PST
Don't worry, this makes no sense. You will very likely get your rink back. The goal was simply to have a place to play pickle ball, and it can work with ball hockey. I am convinced common sense will prevail here and burton hockey will be back in action. Good luck.
Lee wrote on May 04, 2014 @ 22:19:01 PST
We are reviewing a number of options JS. We'll figure something out and be back! But with such little notice given this season is likely dead and it will take some time getting a new home figured out.
Wanda wrote on May 04, 2014 @ 22:05:53 PST
Please save the roller rink, with an aging community who is going to play tennis. It was always great fun to finally hear young adults around Burton again.
Bk wrote on May 04, 2014 @ 17:26:32 PST
RIP McCormack, so many great memories...
js wrote on May 04, 2014 @ 15:21:48 PST
This is really tough news to read :( I'm sorry to hear this has happened. I get the sense that the good group of people up in the Arrow Lakes will figure out a way to overcome this obstacle though!
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