Le Classique is the brainchild of Marc Foidart and Rob Tetrault, who conceived of the idea over a few drinks at the Garage Cafe. The objective was to figure out an effective way to raise money and awareness for Congenital CMV Research.
The men imagined gathering a group individuals and playing Canada’s favorite pastime in one of the most historic areas of Western Canada, Historic St. Boniface.
Ball hockey has been played at some level on streets everywhere in Canada for generations. Both Marc and Rob have been profoundly impacted by ball hockey in their lives. Francophones raised in rural Manitoba, Marc and Rob were surrounded by the game from an early age, having both screamed “Car” on many occasions in their youth growing up in St. Norbert and Marchand respectively.
When the men were trying to find an ideal location, they quickly realized that they were literally standing on a goldmine. The Garage’s vast parking lot would provide an ideal location to host a ball hockey tournament. It would provide immediate and convenient access to drinks, food and facilities, along with enough space for two rinks.
The tournament was born.
Twenty hours and 5 games of ball hockey over three days on two playing surfaces and the second edition of Le Classique is in the books. After months of preparation, organizers Rob Tetrault and Marc Foidart came up with five words to describe the tournament: “Much better than last year!”. Over 2000 people attended on site at the Garage Café during the three days of competition to take in some ball hockey, festive atmosphere and cold beverage or two. The winners of the tournament were the Lab Boyz, a group of ragtag farmers who trekked the long journey from La Broquerie to compete in the event, captained by Roger Beauchamp, who beat the Road Chimps in a tightly contested final.
Rob Tetrault was blown away by the response from the corporate sponsors:
“The community really got behind this event, with some large corporate sponsors kicking in some big dollars to help up put this event together and raise some money. We had set the goal this year at raising $15,000 for charity, and I’m happy to say that we blew that number out of the water, raising over $25,000 for the Canadian CMV Foundation. In addition to actually raising the money for charity, we set a different goal, creating the Canadian CMV Foundation, and that’s another objective I’m proud to say we accomplished. We’re the first National Charity solely devoted to the eradication of CMV. Not only did we get significantly more teams than last year, we had a waiting list again this year, and we had a significantly larger crowd of walkup fans this year. All and all, I’m blown away by the results.”
Marc Foidart was also impressed with the increased fan experience:
“Last year was really just an issue of getting pieces of different sizes and hoping that they all fit together, or at least making them fit together. This year, we started planning early enough and were able to secure some pretty neat additions for the fans. In the feedback I’ve received thus far, the main improvement this year was the heated indoor tent. I’ve rarely seen a festive atmosphere like that on an outdoor cold winter evening in Winnipeg. The hockey games ended up being hotly contested, with several of the playoff games going to overtime. This year we debuted our new overtime format and it proved to be a huge fan favorite. Thanks to the Volunteers, specifically Suzanne – you’re an angel my dear. We’re always looking for volunteers, so please let us know if you’re interested in helping next year.”
Michelle Tetrault noted that the main objective of raising awareness and dollars was not lost on the participants:
“My husband and I have wanted to raise money and awareness for CMV for a long time. The fact that the fruit of that labor is an outdoor ball hockey tournament during the coldest month in the coldest city on this planet is mind-boggling. People were genuinely interested in the condition, its causes, and its prevention. I feel that we reached out to so many people and that brings joy to my heart. We have a lot of work to do still, but if some of the pamphlets prevent one CMV infection, I’ve succeeded in my mission to bring change. I can’t wait for next year already!”.
Ray Beaudry, owner of Garage Cafe says it was a great weekend for everyone:
“I love this weekend because it truly brings out the best of what it means to be Canadian living in St. Boniface. It’s all about making the best of our situation. People enjoy playing ball hockey, and people enjoy having a good time. With the bands going all night and all day, the beer gardens and the heated firepits, I’m proud to say that I was a small part of what was an unbelievable experience for me, my family and my clients. I have long sponsored events in and around Winnipeg, but this is one event where I’m proud to say that I not only sponsored, but had a hand in creating. I love what it does for the community and look forward to being involved again next year. Congrats to Rob and Marc for their amazing success.”
Derrek Funk, trustee of the Canadian CMV Foundation was pleased with the fundraising efforts:
“Not many events are able to raise over $25,000 in their second year of existence. This is due to the people opening their wallets, donating prizes and dollars, and the all out generosity of our fantastic community sponsors. I’ve been on boards before, and I’ve worked in some non-for profit, and I can tell you that it’s a joy to work in this group and to put this event together. The fact that we raised $25,000 for a truly noble cause warms my heart. Thank you everyone for helping raise money and awareness. We’ve doubled our target for next year, so we will need your support again!”