Petition and financial plan serve as boons to reinstatement of shut down pay-to-play team
Since WolfPack hockey was cancelled in July due to a funding shortfall, Trevor Bast has been working diligently to get it back.
Bast was surprised by the cancellation. He had no idea that the team was struggling with funding. Bast’s son, Desmond, was recruited by the WolfPack 12 days before the cancellation was announced.
“I was just disappointed that he had perhaps his last competitive hockey game last spring and didn’t even know it. It was kind of pulled out from under him,” Bast said.
Bast immediately began trying to raise the money in a last ditch effort to help the team play for the season. Bast estimates between $25,000 and $30,000 would have been needed to get the season on track. He couldn’t raise the funds in time.
Bast, who lives in Victoria, now has his sights set on getting the team reinstated for next season. Former WolfPack player Cam Weir has been working with Bast on this project.
“We’re going to have to come up with a plan that shows that we can get this team back, and the TRU athletic department and university will not have to step in and provide funding to bail us out,” Bast said.
“They’re not interested in the sentimental side of it because they had to bail out the program for a couple of the years when it was struggling and they didn’t have that in their budget. I get where they’re coming from to a degree, but I also want them to be extremely open-minded when it comes to allowing the program back.”
So far, Bast’s financial plan includes raising player fees from the previous $1,500 to $2,000. It also includes “really pounding the pavement” to find sponsorship.
This will mean the WolfPack players finding sponsorship, as well as Bast.
“They were able to fundraise around $20,000 for last season. That’s pretty good for student athletes to be able to do that for their program,” Bast said. “We’ll hit up other areas of TRU. Maybe various faculties within the school will benefit from having those students.”
Bast is confident that sponsorship will be found to fund the team for another year, but that might not be enough.
“TRU isn’t interested in what we can do for one year. They want to know what we can do for five years,” Bast said. “That’s a lot to ask for sponsors and donors but that’s what we’re up against.”
Bast hopes to have sponsorship commitments by early December.
Bast will present his financial plan at a B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League meeting, to receive critique and suggestions before he presents it to TRU.
“It’s not just the athletic department who has the final say on this. There’s a few different departments and heads that have to sign off on it,” Bast said. “There’s a process we have to go through to re-apply to get in and under the umbrella of Thompson Rivers University.”
Bast hopes to present the plan right before Christmas break.
“I’ve picked this time frame because we don’t want to get behind in the recruiting game. I would like to be recruiting players by January because that’s when players start picking universities,” Bast said.
Along with the financial plan, Bast will also be presenting his petition to reinstate the WolfPack hockey team. Bast posted the petition online on Oct. 18. He set a goal of 5,000 signatures. So far more than 390 people have signed it. Bast addressed the petition to the university and president Alan Shaver.
“The petition is a venue for showing, in the comments section, what the team means to different types of people who have either played in the program, have children in the program or who have children coming up who might be able to play in the program,” Bast said.
“Money will run the program, but there’s passion for the program. I want to show that there’s passion for hockey at TRU and passion for university hockey in general. It’s important and lots of these kids don’t go to school if they’re not playing hockey,” Bast said. “I don’t think you can put a dollar value on the program.”
Bast hopes that if the program does get reinstated it will be run differently, with more attention paid to the business side of things. But more than anything, Bast is hoping that WolfPack hockey will be back on the ice for next season.