BY SHANNON DUFF
BANNER MANAGING EDITOR
LISTOWEL – Gord Hymers has Listowel minor sports in his blood.
This year marked the 49th edition of the Gord Hymers Memorial Novice Tournament at Listowel Memorial Arena. It was a yearly tradition by Listowel Minor Hockey before Hymers took the reins.
“I got involved with minor hockey and got helping with the novice tournament,” Hymers said in an interview with The Banner Sunday. “In about 1986 [or] ‘87 . . . me and Don Rozendal decided we would carry it on.”
In 1987, Hymers won the WOAA “Mike” Weichel award. The award was donated in 1953 by Weichel, sports enthusiast and Elmira resident, in an effort to ensure those dedicated to minor sports be recognized for their efforts.
Rozendal then suggested the tournament be named to honour Hymers, who grew up in Listowel playing minor hockey and minor baseball.
While he did move to Toronto to work, he returned to the community in 1967.
“When I got older, I decided maybe I’d like to still be involved, so I coached and managed ball and hockey,” he said.
Hymers was quick to give credit to those who help run the tournament, as well as the local sponsors.
“They’re the reason we can keep the tournament going,” he said. “They’re just very dedicated and we make sure we do it for the kids, and that pretty near every kid will go home with something.”
After all, the kids are what it’s all about, said Hymers.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “They’re novice age, they’re just starting out, it’s very enjoyable to watch.”
Hymers’ son-in-law Mike Town got involved in the tournament through family ties, love of the game and love in general.
“I was marrying into the family in ‘95, so I started to help him out, and my dad had been involved as recreation director for some time,” explained Town, who’s been involved in the tournament for about 20 years. His role evolved as technology changed, and he said through email he was able to reach out to more sponsors and area teams for participation.
He said the tournament has a “great” committee of about 12 people who lend a hand co-ordinating, announcing, handing out prizes and more.
“It’s a group effort,” said Town, who began preparations for this year’s edition back in September.
He also grew up playing Listowel hockey and skated in the tournament as a player in the early ‘70s. In fact, Town said he suspects everyone on the committee played in the tournament at one time or another.
Like Hymers, Town said he feels the support this tournament receives has been crucial to its success.
“We have great sponsors,” said Town, which includes local businesses and groups big and small, who donate prizes and ice time.
“It doesn’t go very far without those sponsors,” he said. “The money goes back into the community — they are ultimately donating right back to the community.”
The proceeds support local minor hockey or in years past, the money has been directed toward community betterment projects.