The Castlegar Rebels hosted their first ever dressing room open house Monday night. Guests were invited to hang out in the locker room with the players, coaches and executive for the team while sipping coffee in a casual atmosphere. Kids circled the room gathering autographs from the players while adults snapped photos.
Rebels’ president Mike Johnstone explained the reasoning behind the event. “To be honest, the core of this executive has been in place for a couple of years, and last season we were very, very busy getting our feet on the ground and going to work with fundraising. This year we are on better ground financially,” he said. “We really took a hard look at it and wanted to involve the community more and be a little more open about what is going on with the Rebels. We want to hold more public meetings and events.”
He also explained that recent updates to the dressing room inspired the location of the event, “In the off season we did some cool things in the dressing room — we got a new rug, new video equipment, new graphics… so we thought the best way to start that public interaction was to invite them in and have a look at the dressing room and to meet the guys.”
This week Johnstone also addressed a recent rumour that has been floating around town about the team folding due to financial distress. He stated, “That’s simply not true, it’s unfortunate that people choose to talk negatively about situations they’re unclear on, it really undermines the unbelievable efforts of our volunteers, players, coaches and executive. Our club is doing well, we’ve worked incredibly hard over the last couple of years to eliminate our debt, fix our costs and increase our revenues. We’ve had fantastic support from our corporate sponsors, and this past summer, we signed a deal with Glacier Honda to become our title sponsor.”
Rebels’ head coach Bill Rotheisler is pleased with how the season is going so far. He developed a several year plan for the team that influenced the choice of players, looking not just for the best players, but for the right mix of players. He said the reason was, “To get the right culture here — we have a thing here that no matter how good you are, no matter what the case is, you have to get along with everybody.”
The culture he is looking to nurture develops not just hockey players, but better human beings as well. “Hockey players have had for quite some time, a reputation that we don’t go by here,” said Rotheisler.
The coach is also happy with the progress the players are making on the ice. “The trajectory on how well they get on a week-to-week basis has just been awesome,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 13 years and I don’t think I have ever had a group [like this one] that on a day-to-day basis continues to get better.”