The SAHL marked its 40th Anniversary season in 2016-17! The league started with 4 teams and 3 goalies and has grown to its current membership of more than 600 adult players in 7 divisions.
The league originated out of the necessity of securing ice time on Sunday mornings in the old outdoor arena in Memorial Park. Play graduated to the Stouffville Recreation Complex single ice pad as soon as it was built. Many of our members were instrumental in the fundraising efforts for the original ice pad. The league continued its tradition of Sunday morning play and grew to a 2 Division Over 30 and Over 40 league.
Around 1995 members of the league were approached by a group of young men running a competitive 4 team league in town. We took over their organization and administration. This occurred about the same time as the second ice pad was put in (Pad B), and this division became our Open Division which operated in a midweek evening timeslot under all the same rules and regulations of the Sunday Morning Divisions. This Open Division became very popular for players of all calibers who were not able to play on weekends. It quickly grew and stands at a 8 team division today.
With the adoption of the Open Division format the league restructured the Sunday Morning divisions to better reflect the membership’s age and caliber of play so that the enjoyment of the game could be experienced by all players. With this the Over 30 division became the Over 35 Division and the Over 40 division became the Over 50 Division. We have succeeded in supplying a forum where many players that were not comfortable in continuing to play in our league were able to find great enjoyment in our Over 50 Division. Members who had retired from our league in previous years, returned to the league. This transition also added to the membership and involvement of our Open Division.
Another piece of the puzzle was added in 2001, when SAHL President Paddy Madigan invited a group of local women who had been playing on Sunday Nights since 1996 to join. The Women's Sunday Open Division was created offering women of all ages and abilities the opportunity to play together in a league. It steadily grew from 4 to 8 teams.
In 2010, Stouffville opened its second arena with another two ice pads. This created an opportunity for the SAHL to expand once again and offer three more women's divisions...two on Tuesday nights and one in the Summer.
The Women's Tuesday Competitive Division is a competitive group focused on raising the bar on the skill level offered to women in Stouffville. Many of these young women are the first generation to grow up playing in girls' hockey leagues instead of being one of just a few on boys' teams.
The Women's Tuesday Over 40 Division is being embraced by many hockey moms who have always wanted to play but never had the chance. It is also an opportunity for those who have been playing a long time but want a less competitive environment to play.
The Women's Summer Division plays on Tuesday nights from May to August and offers an opportunity for all ages and abilities to play together in the off-season.
The league has truly become a full community adult hockey league. And as the kids grew up, they've joined into a multi-generational activity for many families in Stouffville. Today divisions include: 3 Men's Divisions: Open, Over 35 and Over 50 and 4 Women's Divisions: Sunday Open, Tuesday Competitive, Tuesday Over 40, and Summer.
The SAHL has always been a leader in community service organizing a number of charity events and tournaments every year including fundraising more than $120,000 over 10 years for the Heart and Stroke Society and more than $50,000 for the Five with Drive Foundation. A key event that has been running since 2008 is the Paddy Madigan Coed Shinny Tournament in memory of our past President who left us all too soon. This family-friendly all ages event has raised more than $80,000 to help those in crisis in the Stouffville community.
Our mission statement uses adjectives like friendship, sportsmanship, fellowship, safety and fair play. Throughout the years of history of the SAHL these values have not changed from generation to generation, division to division, and player to player. That is what makes our membership such a close community and fosters its strength and growth.