The Norman Northstars will be playing under a slightly tweaked league banner during the 2019-20 regular season.
Back in April, the Manitoba AAA hockey league announced that they will be using the term “U-18” instead of “Midget” moving forward to classify players who are aged 15 to 17.
League commissioner Greg Thompson told the Kenora Daily Miner & News April 26 that they made this change to “get ahead of everything and do it first before it came down from Hockey Canada or Hockey Manitoba.”
Thompson is alluding to a growing trend across the country, where sports organizations like the Ontario Basketball Association are dropping the “Midget” designation after receiving complaints from activist groups.
“It’s a word that comes from the freak-show era days, where little people were put on display to be laughed at, ridiculed, mocked,” said Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk, the president of Little People of Manitoba, in a July 30 article for Global News. “The ‘M’ word also stems from a midge, which means tiny fly that spreads disease. I’m not sure if anybody would want to be referred to as that.”
Currently, the Manitoba AAA hockey league has already taken steps to solidify this name change, since their official website and Twitter page already bear the “U-18” title.
On a local level, Northstars coach Murray Nychyporuk doesn’t think this rebranding will affect the team’s day-to-day operations beyond some changes to their current signage.
Meanwhile, local activist Kristopher Blake believes that the name change is in keeping with the Northstars’ brand, since the team has always been very welcoming of people with disabilities like himself.
“I’ve been involved with the Norman Northstars since October of 2002. What I do is I usually go into the dressing room to talk to the players about respecting people with disabilities,” said Blake, who has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair for mobility. “I know the Norman Northstars in the past have also donated to our People First of Thompson organization, which I find amazing.”
Regardless of what the league is calling itself in 2019, the Northstars’ training camp is still taking place Aug. 23-25.
Once the new roster is finalized, the Northstars will kick off their 2019-20 regular season with a road game against the Winnipeg Wild Sept. 27.
The Northstars’ first official home game of the season will take place inside the C.A. Nesbitt Arena Oct. 5, where they will be taking on the Central Plaines Capitals.