Just spent a couple of hours performing my volunteer duty as the convener of a rep hockey division. Conveners get together at least once a month during the season to review policies/procedures, where necessary, and to share and discuss what, if any, issues we are experiencing with any of the three teams we are responsible for. The primary role of the convener is to act as an unbiased liaison between parents and coaching staffs should any issues occur during the season. The convener represents the association and is tasked with ensuring proper procedures are followed by parents and coaching staffs alike. There are and must be specific guidelines that need to be followed in order for all teams to operate in a fair and efficient manner. Ignorance can not be an excuse as there are several resources, including we conveners, willing to assist and guide those who are not familiar with the standard policies.
With 10 divisions of rep teams, 3 teams per division, 17 players per team, 30+ parents per team and 3 or 4 coaching staff, which may or may not be parents of players, there is certainly plenty of potential for the occasional clash of interests, agendas, beliefs and personalities. Hockey, after all, is a microcosm of society in general.
We’ve all heard the stories of parents who are sure their kid is the one, the next Gretzky; or those who are trying to relive their youth through their son or daughter. Despite an association’s best efforts to screen and select coaches who will uphold agreed upon philosophies centred around fair play, fun and respect for the game, there are still those who assume their roles with misguided intentions. The association’s primary interests are the well being and enjoyment of the players. House league players make up the large majority of those registered to play hockey in our association. I assume that is the same in most centres. Rep hockey is really meant to provide an avenue to allow more skilled players to compete against opponents of a similar skill level. However, some parents and coaches view rep hockey as a win-first focused arena and breeding ground for the next crop of NHLers. When, in reality, we are all aware of the fact that a minuscule percentage of players are destined for hockey greatness. Despite our best efforts, this competitive misconception along with the natural tendency for parental bias get in the way.
Over my two-year tenure as convener I have had to deal with a few incidents, most of which were dealt with via simple communication. A couple have required some level of escalation and in a couple of instances the intervention of other senior association representatives. My counterparts from the other divisions have likewise had their share of occurrences; some more severe than others. In all cases, as in life, there is eventual resolution. While seemingly difficult at times, the underlying theme should be that hockey, be it competitive or not, is just a game that kids are playing for fun and fitness. Of course, I don’t expect the attitudes or agendas of a few to change any time soon. I do take solace in the fact that there are volunteer stewards of the game, like those I sat with tonight, who are trying to keep and grow hockey for the right reasons.