Page is turned: Hello, Barkman Arena

Posted: February 9, 2009

Barkman ArenaBriercrest College and Seminary’s hockey fans will never shiver with cold during a hockey game again. On February 7, after a twenty-year wait and in the presence of more than 500 people, the schools’ leadership cut the ribbon on the Barkman Arena. They effectively laid to rest Sparrow Gardens, the school’s old hockey arena and former WWII airplane hangar, after 60 years of service.

"This has been an incredible page in our history book," said President Dwayne Uglem at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday afternoon.

The arena was named for John Barkman, who can testify to Briercrest’s legacy and the role that hockey has played in it. Barkman is a former Briercrest student, hockey coach, athletic director, vice president, and president; its current chancellor; and a longtime supporter of Clipper and Cougar athletics.

When he heard about the FutureInFocus capital campaign, which would finally make the construction of a new arena possible, he jumped on board immediately, asking President Uglem whom he needed to talk to and what he needed to do to help get the arena up. It had been on board agendas even before he served as the schools’ president from 1990-96.

It was also a special project for him personally, having come to Briercrest in the late fifties because of its hockey team. He said that God “worked in his life” when he got here, and he’s been in integral part of the school’s life—and its hockey program—ever since.

"Today, we say thank-you to one of our founders," said President Uglem Saturday. "John, we love you…and we’re thrilled to put your name on this new building."

He was met with a standing ovation.

Barkman shared part of his history with the school after the ribbon had been cut, also telling a story from the late chancellor emeritus, Dr. Henry Hildebrand. A student asked him, "Will there be hockey in heaven?" He replied, "Well, son, I’m not sure. But I know there won’t be hockey in the other place!"

Many others can testify to what this new building represents for them, and one of them is Jamie Ramer, who came to Briercrest College in 1993 to play hockey. He planned to stay only a year, but stayed for five, playing out his hockey eligibility under coach John Bechtold. He said playing for the Clippers solidified his faith because of its "unique emphasis on faith and life in the game."

It was "so much more than a hockey program for me," he said. "[It] has had a huge impact on my life and what I’m doing now."

Ramer works for Hockey Ministries International in Zurich, Ontario.

"We believe that living out...the words of Jesus Christ is at the heart of our mission," said Uglem. "Today…we stand in a building that will be used to form people for lives of service."