Categorized | Sports

Organizers set new date for STARS tournament

Mike Bourassa

Fort Macleod’s popular STARS volleyball tournament is still a go for 2021.

Organizers still plan to stage the 19th fund-raiser for the air ambulance, but last week changed the date in the hopes COVID-19 pandemic restrictions will ease.

“We’re buying ourselves some time, and everybody else too,” organizer Mike Bourassa said. “Who knows if we’ll be able to have it, but we’d like to be a little proactive.”

Organizers were forced to cancel the STARS charity volleyball tournament last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to the generosity of teams and donors, the tournament still raised $10,000 to fund two missions by the air ambulance.

The previous year the tournament raised more than $11,400 for STARS, and in 2017 it raised $12,372.

The tournament also puts close to $14,000 into businesses where supplies were bought and community groups that helped out with the tournament.

The 2021 tournament was set for the second weekend in April, but is now planned for May 28-30.

“It’s not ideal for us,” Bourassa said of moving the tournament to a later date. “This is definitely a one-time thing to move it to this date. We like having it early in April. That seems to work for everybody.”

“It just works better, but as everybody is learning sometimes you’ve got to make a little adjustment to try to continue to move forward.”

Bourassa will adjust plans for organizing the tournament and raising money.

Invitations are generally sent to co-ed teams about the middle of January. This time, an e-mail will be sent to teams that participated previously informing them of the new date.

“We are giving teams that were registered last year the first opportunity to register for this year,” Bourassa said of the 46 teams that took part in 2019.

Bourassa will not begin approaching businesses for donations until March, a task he usually completes in February.

“I would think by then we should have an idea of what’s going on,” Bourassa said.

Organizers aren’t sure whether the pandemic will reduce the number of teams that will take part in May.

Last year there were 46 teams, but in its first year just 10 teams participated.

However many teams sign up, the Fort Macleod group is excited to hold the tournament.

“I think we’ll have a good turn-out,” Bourassa said.

At present, sports facilities in Alberta have been closed temporarily to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Private and public gatherings are banned right now, and entertainment centres are closed.

That would impact the STARS tournament, which offers beer gardens and a cabaret with the price of registration.

“The cabaret is one of the bigger draws,” Bourassa said. “If we can’t have that we’re not going to raise the kind of money we want to raise.”

The committee has booked the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre as well as the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall for the last weekend in May.

Now they just have to wait to see if the pandemic eases by then.

“We’re just trying to be proactive do the right thing so everybody can have fun,” Bourassa said.

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