COMMENT: Rossland Alumni Association?

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
June 22nd, 2011

It’s a familiar story: bright, young Rossland children excel through Maclean and RSS, come out of school–likely with several scholarships–and then “go down the road”, as the same phenomenon was called when I was growing up in Nova Scotia, and attend school in a larger centre.


Their small town upbringing serves them well, and somewhere in the back of their mind they thank Rossland for the part it played in helping them get started in life.

For decades universities have tapped into that same sense of gratitude: alumni associations are not just a way for past students to stay in touch with their former alma matter, they are also a way for the universities to tap into that sense of appreciation as a means to fundraise.

With that in mind, one road forward for Rossland might be to look to our own past residents and drawing on their sense of hometown pride. Yes, indeed a Rossland Alumni Association might just be the key to a wealth of resources just waiting to be tapped. After all, the case could be made that more gratitude and loyalty is owed to the town where one spent 18 years growing up than to a university one may have attended for four or five years.

As we all should well know, Rossland has created and launched the lives of many successful folks be that in sports, business, scientific or other such fields. Finding those folks, reconnecting with them and getting them to think about how Rossland played a role in their success is the first step into developing such an association.

 Then the trick is to keep them connected, and continue to develop that relationship while driving home the importance of their Rossland upbringing. With that attachment firmly rebuilt and a sense of hometown pride rekindled, our Rossland alumni could perhaps lend their skills or their dollars towards helping ensure the next generation of Rosslanders has the same opportunities for success they had.

Seeking out potential alumni could start simply with graduation records from RSS going as far back as the group dare delve and hunting down from there. From there, much like universities do, developing a regular form of communication to keep past Rosslanders apprised of the goings on of their former home establishes the link and starts to rebuild and then tug on the heart strings.

The desire for ex-pat Rosslanders to keep up with their home-town has been proven before our very own eyes with the Telegraph. A full 65% of our 6,000 unique person strong readership lives outside of the immediate area. Many of these readers are former Rosslanders who still like to keep tabs on goings on in the Mountain Kingdom. In fact, a simple subscription sign up table we set up at the Red Mountain Reunion in the RSS gym two years ago generated much excitement as past Red employees were stoked to have found an outlet to fill their Rossland jones.

With the connection built, perhaps through an online magazine or newsletter specifically for the alumni projects, wants and needs in Rossland can start being trotted out before them in the hopes of generating donations and assistance.

When we think of prominent Rosslanders we tend to gravitate towards our sports stars. We indeed have the greatest numbers of Olympic gold medalists of any city in the country. We’ve got our Nancy Greenes and Kerrin Lee-Gartners. Beyond gold medallists we’ve got a plethora of others such as  George Grey most recently, Felix Belyck, Dallas Drake, and more.

Imagine now some of the possibilities. Dallas Drake, our own Stanley Cup champ, got his start as a Rossland Warrior back in the day. With an arena in need of additional upgrades and repairs down the road along with the recently upgraded roof and HVAC systems, folks like Drake would seem a natural fit. Our arena, coaches, parents and volunteers helped him become the great hockey player over a long and prosperous career. It perhaps seems a natural that framed and presented properly, our Stanley Cup winning alumni might naturally be interested in helping out with the arena he got started in. The Dallas Drake arena, anyone?

Likewise, looking to our ski brethren, the Red Mountain Racers have big plans if they can get the funding to build a new race shack, upgrade their timing equipment and install a snowmaking system on the Back-Trail of Red for more reliable early season training and racing. It would again seem a natural fit to approach stars like Greene and Lee-Gartner with well-thought-out and put together proposals. The Nancy Greene Training center? The Kerrin-Lee race shack?

Beyond the recognizable names and sports stars, there are countless Rosslanders who have gone on to successful lives beyond the Mountain Kingdom. Were they to know the threat our schools face and be intimately in tune to the fact that the opportunities they had as kids are quickly fading for the youth of tomorrow, I would think in many cases they would be happy to donate ten dollars here, twenty dollars there towards a cause they can directly relate to.

Just like the great universities of this country, Rossland has been churning out an annual crop of successful citizens for decades. Regardless of how far and how long they may have travelled away from the alpine city, somewhere deep inside there are still strong heart strings with fond memories of their Rossland past. With the right organization and approach, a Rossland Alumni Association could help bring some of that success back again to recycle our greatest exports back into the system to make sure we keep churning out well-rounded folks well into the future.

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