How it began:
The Smitty’s team formed by Roy and Evelyne Holenski in 1975 blazed the trail for teams to emulate in the years following. This team has compiled an enviable record over the years. It was formed as a community club team out of Grant Park Harrow in South Winnipeg, comprising 10 girls from Evelyne’s Grade 5/6 class at Harrow School. They were Manitoba champions that year and for the next four years (two at Bantam and two at Midget). They represented Manitoba at the Western Canadian Championships in Calgary (1976), Saskatoon (1977), Brandon (1978) and Campbell River, BC (1979), finishing second or third in each of those years.
Keeping the nucleus of the team, but adding a few new members each year, the team continued its winning ways, representing Manitoba at three Junior National Championships in Milverton (1981), Kitchener (1982), and culminating as bronze medallists in Lloydminster (1983).
Moving into the senior ranks in 1984, the team continued representing Manitoba at National play, and gained strength with each competition, including Vancouver (1986), Memremcook NB (1987), St. John’s NF (1988), Brampton ON (1989), Vancouver (1990), and finally onto the numerous national medals documented elsewhere on this site.
Evelyne and Roy always had a vision that, one day, Manitoba would compete on an even keel with other provinces at Nationals. To that end, in the mid 1980’s, they were instrumental in forming the Manitoba Ladies Super League, a multi-structured league designed to encompass the elite teams. Playing stronger competition, teams improved.
In the 1990’s their vision becomes a reality:
What made this team so special? It was a close knit group giving congratulations and praise when deserved, and advice and encouragement when needed. It was a unique group of individuals who love a challenge, and who consider a team victory more important than individual awards. Stable, positive and consistent leadership combined with the loyalty, determination and perseverance of the players to provide a shining example of what can happen when you never quit trying to get better.
Karen Doell, the Olympian, said it best … “Being part of Smitty’s gave me some of my best gifts. A chance to play with athletes who were like-minded, talented, intense and focussed. To play through the whole scale of emotions … laughter, tears, injury, fatigue, frustration and joy. I learned what the true meaning of TEAM was … never giving up, always believing in your teammates’ ability, doing what you had to do for the team despite yourself, thinking positively, always knowing what it took to win. We had that ability. It was a group of people who played as one.”