As we turn the page on another calendar year and enter the back half of yet another marathon hockey season, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year-to-date. For those of you that know me, I believe that communication is essential to the efficient operation of an association as large as SPMHA. With that said, I wanted to review what we have done well this year and areas for improvement that we have identified. Of course, I cannot continue before I recognize the continued efforts of the Board of Directors and the volunteers that selflessly give of their time.
When the season began, I targeted three specific areas of interest – player development, coach development and community presence. So, what have we done well as an association thus far?
- In the area of player development, we have worked on creating relationships with other sports organizations in Sherwood Park, including Salto Gymnastics, to offer our players opportunities for off-ice athletic development. We have grown our Summer Camp offerings. We have organized on-ice development offerings. We have successfully implemented the Hockey Canada Intro to Hockey Program for our Initiation and Novice players while continuing to try to find the most efficient use of resources available.
- In the area of coach development, we have initiated the framework of a mentorship program. We have worked to strengthen our coaching community by organizing a weekly coach’s pickup game where coaches from all age divisions can come together to play hockey and socialize, learning from each other and sharing ideas. We have continued to provide access to a curriculum for our coaches. We have worked with Hockey Alberta to gain a better understanding of offerings to our coaches and are in the process of ensuring that those are in place for next season. We also changed our coach review process to three times per season instead of one, allowing us the opportunity to provide more timely feedback to our coaches and support when needed.
- In the area of community presence, we have continued to recognize the efforts by SPMHA teams giving back to the community through our social media platforms. We have created the Special Events Committee with the intention of leveraging our membership size to organize events for both our player and parent groups. We have taken the lead in organizing the volunteer efforts for the upcoming Rogers Hometown Hockey event, working in collaboration with our partner associations.
So, what have we identified that can be done better?
- In the area of player development, we have completed a full debrief of player evaluations and process. We realize that the evaluation process is an imperfect science and will strive to increase the transparency and communication of the process moving forward.
- We will look to leverage association partnerships to provide alternative camp offerings to our members in the off-season. We will continue to work on development opportunities for players of all ages, on and off the ice. In the area of coach development, we will aim to provide more clinic opportunities locally and to streamline the certification process.
- We will also look to provide more opportunities for our coaches to develop their skills through non-conventional means including the consideration of a coach tool kit. In the area of community presence, we will continue to promote the positive outcomes of community involvement while highlighting those acts by our members and focusing on ways to develop our players as leaders off the ice.
New Feedback Model
SPMHA took a step in a new direction this year with the addition of a General Manager position to the team. The intent of the position was to increase the efficiency of the association while alleviating the pressure on our volunteers. Like any new position, there is a learning curve and the role has continuously evolved since inception. There have been questions by the membership regarding the impact of this addition on member cost, and our goal is to continue to increase membership awareness, specifically through increased attendance at our Annual General Meetings and through increased communication. With that said, I would like to introduce a new communication stream to our membership. Feedback is encouraged consistently by our Board of Directors but isn’t always received through the available mediums. SPMHA would like to offer a new feedback model via firstname.lastname@example.org. The primary justification for membership not sharing feedback is the concern of the impact to their relationship with SPMHA for both the family and the player(s). SPMHA is committed to listening to its members. This email will review all feedback presented with intentions on using the feedback to increase efficiencies.
I love the sport of hockey. I hope that you do too. If the past nine months has taught me anything, it has been a strong reminder to focus on what is important, that is, the kids. I urge you as a hockey parent/guardian to take a step back, take a deep breath and focus on your child and their enjoyment of the game. Try for a moment to forget about the behind-the-scenes details and just enjoy sitting in the rink and watching. In the long run, those details won’t matter. Have more conversations with other parents on your team. More than likely, you’ll be seeing them for the next decade as your kids grow up together. Get involved with you team. Don’t view it as an inconvenience. It is an opportunity to be a part of the team and to grow relationships. Breathe. Before you know it, you’ll blink, and the season will be over, and that is something that you don’t want to miss.
See you at the rink.