As we officially wind down another great year at Simcoe
Minor Hockey, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the 2018-2019 season. With over 500 games played, an OMHA Final Series and countless hours at the arena,
it certainly was an action-packed year.
First and foremost, a huge thank you to our coaches, trainers, managers and anyone who volunteered their time to help. This organization does not exist without all of you. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
Where do I start? I am pleased to report that our registration numbers remained strong in 2018-2019. We have continued to make significant investment in both equipment and on ice player development at all levels in the organization. This season we were able to successfully deliver 15 hours of skill development sessions for our goalies, all local league players from Tyke to Peewee and all Representative players from Novice to Bantam. The older ager groups, namely Bantam and Midget, were given full ice practices in lieu of development sessions as a result from feedback in the previous season. Sessions included Power Skating, Checking Development, Shooting and Puck Control. Thank you to our Development Director Andrew Beck for pulling all of this together. A big driver of our strong registration numbers continues to be a growing Pre-Novice Program. We have been able to attract new members consistently and the programs are ever evolving to be second to none. These players represent the future of minor hockey in our region and we will continue to seek improvements in any way we can. While I am still finalizing the ice time numbers for this season, I am extremely confident in saying we offer the greatest value for registration dollar anywhere in Norfolk County. This will continue.
Off the ice and behind the scenes for many, the 2018-2019 season was one of planning for the future of small-town hockey in our region. Back in March 2018, we began discussions with all the other minor hockey associations in Norfolk County, with the goal of improving the quality of hockey available to our members locally. It should be no secret to anyone that we continue to lose players to larger centres and that many associations in our region have trouble year after year fielding representative teams in all divisions. These issues have a cascading effect on all divisions. Players end up playing the level of hockey that is available in their local centre rather that having the opportunity to play at the proper level consummate with their abilities. It is certainly not isolated to the Representative levels and many of our Local League teams can attest to this past season. The reality is that a Local League team from a centre that is unable to field a representative team will have players on their roster that simply don’t belong at the local league level. As coaches, it is extremely challenging to offer a program that delivers appropriate developmental opportunities to both ends of the talent spectrum. The answer is simple, players who play with like skilled players, develop better. The discussions continued throughout the summer of 2018 and eventually concluded with a draft agreement between Simcoe, Waterford and Port Dover. The Rep Partnership Agreement called for the formation of a new association, namely Norfolk Minor Hockey, tasked with running the Representative Programs on behalf of all three centres. The new association would have equal board representation from each of the participating associations while preserving each individual local association as is. Both Port Dover and Simcoe members voted overwhelmingly in favour of ratifying the agreement. Unfortunately, the Waterford vote did not receive the required 2/3rd’s majority and the process was halted for the 2019-2020 season. It was disappointing to have come so close, but the progress we made during the year long discussions was significant. We collectively agree on the key issues facing Minor Hockey in region, received significant support from our membership and ultimately have a working framework to build on for the future. These discussions will continue again in May 2019 with a goal of executing for the 2020-2021 season.
This season saw the return of the Vic Jackson Demeyere Chrysler tournament in October and all five SDMHA tournaments showcased our organization, our county and the passion for hockey in Simcoe. Feedback was overwhelming positive for all events. We are proud to host these events, not only because they allow our teams to play against other centres outside of the region, but more importantly raise money for worthy causes, help fund new equipment for our members and afford us an opportunity to give back to the community. It gives me great pleasure to see the hotels full, restaurants booked and to make a significant contribution to those business that support Minor Hockey year after year. We are doing something right as each event was sold out and teams came from all over the province to participate.
The 2018-2019 season brought national attention to Simcoe, albeit not necessarily for the right reasons. We have all heard about the “Tussle at Talbot” or the “Skirmish in Simcoe” All joking aside, it ended up being a big deal about nothing, however, the power of the media was on full display. More importantly, this story could not have travelled from coast to coast so quickly without the help of Social Media. After speaking with many media outlets after the story broke, I made a mental note to make mention of this relatively new medium in shaping the narrative in this year end review. Not for the event itself, but as a reminder to all, of the new reality we live in today. News, gossip, general comments, complaints and of course pictures travel at the speed of light in a connected world without regard to accuracy, verification and in some cases potential negative consequences. All I ask is that all members bear in mind the viral nature of negative social media posts and that all of us are volunteers. We don’t always get it right, but we try. Imagine the effect if positivity could be spread the same way, that would be a game changer. It was certainly an interesting 10 minutes of fame for SDMHA.
For the first time in my years with the association, we have volunteers that have stepped up to fill all positions on the Executive. Lots of new faces with fresh ideas and this is a great thing for the organization. To those whose term is complete May 1st, thank you for all you have done for Simcoe Minor Hockey. It has been a pleasure working with you. A special mention goes out to Bob Kowalsky, who is leaving the SDMHA executive to be the new Intertown Convenor. Bob has spent countless years on the executive long after his kids left minor hockey. We wish Bob well in his new role.
I was not intending to write a novel, but I suppose it was a year filled with interesting twists and turns. In closing, we want to hear from you. Good, bad or indifferent you are all a part of SDMHA and your opinion matters. Please provide feedback, make suggestions or if you just want to vent, that is welcome too. We cannot get better without your help. You can send your questions or comments in confidence to [email protected]. I will be sure to respond to all.
Thanks again for a great season and I look forward to 2019-2020!!!
Simcoe and District Minor Hockey Association