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The Charleswood Men’s Hockey Association raised enough money to provide scholarships now and well into the future.
‘Beer league’ aims to leave
lasting legacy for students
By Arielle Godbout
HEN Dan Wuerch talks about
the men in his hockey league,
you’d think he was describing
the unassuming alter egos for a team
“We’re your next-door neighbour, the
people you see on the street, that cut
the grass,” the 47-year-old said playfully before a recent game. “And, we
play hockey at night.”
And though they’re not masked crusaders (except, perhaps, the goalies),
the 66 players in the Charleswood
Men’s Hockey Association are certainly trying to do some good.
Three years ago, they began two
$350 bursaries for students at Shaftesbury High School and Oak Park High
This past September, the league created a fund with the Winnipeg Foundation and has since raised a little more
Wuerch, who is in his third term as
the CMHA’s president, doesn’t shy
away from acknowledging it’s a beer
“If you can have a beer with a guy
after a game, that’s what it’s all about,”
he said. “What happens on the ice stays
on the ice.”
Wuerch’s teammate Shawn Chambers, 42, doesn’t reject the term either,
but does stress that it comes with baggage.
“The only thing with having the label
of the ‘beer league’ is the stigma that
comes with that,” he said, explaining
that some people assume the players
are nothing but a group of middleaged, slightly overweight men past
But that doesn’t capture the true nature of the non-profit CMHA, Wuerch
“We’re probably one of the most progressive and sophisticated senior men’s
leagues in the country,” he said.
For example, the league has a draft
to switch up the team rosters each year,
avoiding any pent-up animosity.
Players are also ranked according to
skill to assure the teams are levelled
“We do a good job here and we want
the community to know that we’re part
of it. We don’t just hide under the cloak
of night,” Wuerch said.
So, when he became president three
years ago, he began looking for a way
to show the league’s true colours.
Vaughan Alexander, one of the team
captains, suggested the bursaries and
Wuerch embraced the idea.
For the first two years, the league
held fundraisers to finance the scholarships, Wuerch said, but the events took
a lot of time and energy to organize.
It was Chambers who first suggested
establishing a fund with the Winnipeg
“Our goal was, in launching it, to try
and raise in one year enough funds to
provide the two bursaries again next
year and in perpetuity,” said Chambers.
As an added bonus, if the league
could raise at least $7,500, the provincial government would match the
It only took about five months to
reach the goal, Chambers said.
All the money was either gifted or
pledged by league members, he added, without any specific fundraising
The achievement has not only secured
the scholarships for years to come, but
also allowed Wuerch to dream big for
“If we’re successful enough, we’ll be
soliciting community members, asking
them where else can we help,” he said.
“Is it infrastructure, is it training programs? How else can the CMHA help
out in the community?
“This is a way that they’re leaving a
footprint for many years to come,” he
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