The U15 Dakota Warriors spring training program is taking place once again this year.
Head coach Kyle Pashe says their main objective is to give indigenous hockey players the opportunity to further develop their skills. He says they have players, from the A1 level all the way up to AAA, come together to improve with the Warriors program.
Pashe says he allows these players to try to develop their skills with high-level programs so they know what it takes to be great.
"Some of the programs we've had were J. P. Vigier's Vigier Hockey, Excessive Speed Hockey, and this season we're going to have RISE Hockey Development come out," Pashe explains. "In the past, we had RINK, and those types of organizations, do a little bit with the boys."
The head coach says a big portion of the program is about opening doors for the athletes.
Pashe notes many of these players don't receive the ice time they would need to get to the level they are striving for with their winter programs. He adds it is extremely satisfying to be able to provide that ice time for the guys.
Pashe says they have a few things to prepare for in the near future.
"Right now, we're in four tournaments, and we're looking at competing in a few more. We go to as many tournaments as possible from the start of March to August," Pashe continues. "We also do different things, for example, we're hoping to host a camp this summer where we can invite younger indigenous kids to partake, while these boys assist them. They're also big role models in the indigenous community. The Dakota Warriors is a pretty big name now, and we have a ton of fans and supporters."
@dakotawarriors #dakotawarriors #u15hockey #warriorup #manitoba #dakota #warrior ♬ original sound - Dakota Warriors Hockey
This Warriors team's core has been together during this time of the year since they were at the Novice level, with just a few additions along the way, according to Pashe. He says it's been unreal how far they've come.
"They just fell in love with the program, and every year they were at the top of the list to register. So, every year we kept the same group. A lot of them started out as house league A1 players and they developed in our program to become 'AA' or 'AAA' players. A lot of them took big strides because of the confidence they built in our program."
Pashe says the entire program is funded by the community as fundraisers and their merchandise sales are the main source of income. He notes a lot of the money also comes out of his own pocket from his company Red Eagle Design, where the Dakota Warriors items can be found.
The Warriors will be in action this weekend in Dauphin and will then play a tournament in Portage from April 22-24. Dakota also plans to host their own tournament at Stride Place later in the season. That is set for May 14th at Stride Place.