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Langley Rivermen Hat Trick: Community, Economy, Health

A Q+A interview with Mandy Henderson, Manager of the Langley Rivermen.

The Township of Langley got its first taste of junior hockey in the 1973-74 season, when the Langley Lords became a member of the BCJHL. The Lords competed for 5 seasons in the league which saw them experience regular season success without anything materializing into playoff success. Over the next 35 years, the local hockey scene shifted and changed with new teams, new names, and changing players. In 2011, a change of ownership brought a new and exciting team to the Township, and the Langley Rivermen were born.

Rivermen

The Rivermen name is derived from the history of Langley. The early explorers and traders of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Northwest Company, the Rivermen, came to British Columbia’s West Coast to trade fur, carry goods, and create partnerships. Like the strong and tenacious settlers who established the first roots in this community, the Rivermen are poised to boldly forge their way into a new era. This is what makes the Rivermen the first hockey team to truly reflect the community and honour its history and heritage.

The team’s colours are blue and beige, representing the water and agriculture that sustained the early settlers and continues to be a substantial part of Langley’s make up. The hope is that the Rivermen are not just giving Langley residents an exciting hockey team of their own to rally behind but to create an opportunity to educate residents about the community’s past and play a part in forging a successful and sustainable future for the Township.

The Township of Langley recently spoke to manager Mandy Henderson about the impact of the Langley Rivermen on the local community and economy.

TOL: The Township of Langley is a hockey town, and the Rivermen are a huge part of that. What do the fans and supporters in this community mean to your team?

MH: Our fans are some of the most supportive in the league. They’re here day in day out to cheer us on. The players feed off of the energy of the crowd and with an intimate venue like George Preston Recreation Centre, it makes for an exciting game every night!


TOL: As Langley’s home team, how do the Rivermen inspire community spirit and encourage local residents to live an active lifestyle?

MH: The Rivermen are active in the community and support many causes. We partner with the Langley Elks helping them with the Langley Walk, allow community partners to do 50/50 during our games, and do a variety of community events throughout the year – from ‘Reading with the Rivermen’ to Walk-a-thons to playing floor hockey with the Langley Special Olympics. It’s important for us to encourage children to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. Our players are seen as people to look up to so it’s important for them to always be aware of this and to lead by example.


TOL: The Township of Langley is known as a sport tourism destination with great athletic facilities, dedicated volunteers, and enthusiastic supporters. How do sports teams like the Rivermen and special events such as tournaments benefit the community economically?

MH: The Rivermen play within the BCHL, with teams across BC and one in Washington State. All of the teams that come here enjoy a post-game meal, and most teams have to stay at local hotels for a night or two, with needed stops at local restaurants to fuel up before and after games. Some teams choose to stay in Langley regardless of the team they’re facing in the Lower Mainland. Beyond that, we use a local facility for our training, ice use and game time and we have 22 players happily spending money in the community.


TOL: Your team is dedicated to giving back and helping others. Players can often be found volunteering and at community events, and the Rivermen assist other organizations with fundraising and encourage education. What are some of the things the Rivermen do in our community and why is it important to get involved?

MH: We spend countless days in the school system encouraging children to read and get an education, which is one of our main team mandates. One of our favorite community events we do is our Adopt-A-Street program, where we clean up 208th street by George Preston. It helps give us pride in our area as well as having a positive benefit for the community at large. Hopefully, it also helps other kids want to be involved in doing something to better their community. The team also helps Special Olympics a few times each year with 50/50 support as well as going to their annual carwash, and we send the team to play floor hockey with them at least once per year. We also help support the Langley Elks with 50/50 nights and their Walk-a-Thon.


TOL: The Rivermen team up with other businesses and organizations through sponsorships and partnerships – why is it important to support each other, from a business perspective?

MH: The Rivermen cannot survive without their sponsors and we like to think sponsors get something out of being part of our team as well. We promote our sponsors at games, on our social media, and do our best to help them with any events they may have throughout the year. Our main sponsors this year are Preston GM and Belair Construction, who have been with us for quite some time. We are extremely proud to have such fantastic sponsors that do incredible things to promote the Township of Langley and to better it. Being a sponsor means that you’re helping us create an atmosphere and a program that will aide in the development of young talented athletes from Langley and hopefully help them to achieve a scholarship to an NCAA school.


TOL: How has this season been for you and what are the plans for the 2019/2020 season?

MH: This season has been an exciting one. We have lots of young players and have our first Langley Trapper graduate to the Langley Rivermen program. It’s fantastic to see the program work and see players succeed. We also had our captain, Alec Capstick, get a scholarship after a season ending injury two years ago. For the 2019/20 season we hope to continue to grow our sponsorship base and our fan base in Langley. It would be fantastic for our players to have sell out crowds all the time!


If you’d like to check out a game, find the season schedule, as well as team roster, sponsorship information, and more at langleyriverman.com or get a peek behind the scenes on Facebook and Twitter (@LangleyRivermen).