At the Sarnia Hockey Association annual general meeting, Chairman of the Board Mike Johnson commented after the meeting on several key topics one of which was the number of players not returning.
Despite an increase of 48 players overall registered in the 2013-14 season over 2012-13 a total of 232 players did not return to Sarnia Hockey. However 25 of those players remained in the Hockey Canada data base and further investigation by Johnson found that those players returned to their home centres (Petrolia, Mooretown, Point Edward). The biggest drop in numbers reported was in the Instructional and Novice divisions.
"What were we doing wrong that the kids left the younger divisions?" Question was asked by Mike Johnson
"We have to do something, hockey is a good game. We love it and we are all here for the same reason, but how are we going to get the kids to play?"
Johnson had learned from a discussion with a hockey parent about Ray Meyer, an Instructional Division coach who made the game fun for the players. He took it upon himself to reward every boy on his team by presenting one player with a puck each week earning the outstanding player. The parent explained to Johnson how her son had so much fun that he couldn't wait to get back on the ice to play and worked hard to earn his puck."
"That was a great idea and great job by Coach Meyer." Johnson said "What we need to do is give a budget to our instructional or novice to come up with an incentive program like what Meyer did to motivate these kids. We have to make it fun."
Another area of discussion was the arena situation and the possible closures of two rinks.
"We are looking at if they close one arena we might be able to continue with existing programs. If they close two then we are going to have to start looking at alternatives" Johnson said
For our A/AA and MD Divisions "Hockey Canada pushed for years that teams have 2 practices a week and we play 2 games a week. To take it to one practice and 2 games a week that's not developing anybody and if Hockey Canada is talking top down we need development, we need skill development and to make our teams more competitive eliminating our practice or shrinking our program is not going to help that model."
"The house league program will be affected as well. With the loss of arenas it will impact that program where kids may have to play at 6:00 am on Saturday and/or Sunday. Also with the loss of arenas it may impact on the number of teams the association has."
"If they close two arenas we are cutting back somewhere and we might be in the position for the first time ever saying we can only support six teams in a division and have to say sorry were full and turn kids away." Johnson said
Also if the City closes an arena it will affected the Silver Stick Tournament which will also affect the community. In the meeting it was reported that the Silver Stick Tournament hosted 94 teams in 2014, an increase of 28 teams from 2013. If an arena is closed the tournament will have to reduce the number of teams participating.
"I think we made some great progress with the referees" Johnson said
Sarnia hockey director Glen Hall reported that the number of GM penalties were down last season with less confrontations or problems.
Johnson said that Sarnia hockey has been working hand in hand with the Blue Water Referee Association helping to develop more referees at a younger age to help them get to the rep program. "Without referee's there will be no hockey."
Overall Johnson said that this was a great year. "We have a strong board, were in this together. It's been fun that's why we do it."
From the Alliance
In attendance at the Annual Meeting was Alliance Hockey representative Jennifer MacDonald who is the Regional Vice President for Region 5 that covers hockey centres from Windsor to Sarnia.
MacDonald spoke to the group about the program called Respect in Sport for Parents.
"It's different than what the coaches have to take about bullying and harassment, it really gets into fair play or how to act in the arena for a lack of a better term." MacDonald said "With so many kids leaving hockey at different points, like young referees that are getting screamed at and yelled at by adults. They are there to control a game and you got coaches, parents yelling at them, how's a 14 year old going to tell an adult to basically to be quiet. So it's a support to give them as well."
The course is available online and takes approximately one hour. The cost is a one time fee of $12.00.
"At present this is not mandatory in the Alliance Hockey however OMHA centres will be mandatory next season and there are a couple of organizations within the Alliance that do have it as mandatory and they found that it has worked very well."
"You only have to take it once. So if you are required to take it for Soccer or any other sport and your required to take it for hockey you don't have do it twice. It stays with you and with the child." MacDonald said
for more information on Respect in Sport program click here