Getting Organized

The roster for the Devil’s team has been finalized. No other immediate signs of defections or mutinies on the horizon. With the stress of tryouts somewhat behind us, but never totally forgotten, it is time to get down to the business of organizing and running the team.

The season won’t officially begin and no ice will be touched until sometime in late August or more likely early September, but there is plenty to do. And so, last week I got together with my newly appointed manager (a critical and often thankless role on a minor hockey team) to begin building the checklist of things we have and want to do with and for this team. A checklist which includes creating a budget, opening a bank account, completing an official roster, building a contact list, organizing fundraising activities to offset the cost to each player’s family, finding and registering in tournaments, scheduling team building and pre-season training, etc….and finding parents on the team who are willing and able to help with all of these tasks.  I’m quickly realizing that running a minor hockey team is a lot like running a small business. I actually heard a speaker at a business function today refer to running his business as a “do-ocracy”, which is a concept I would like to adopt in that if something needs to get done then we find someone to do it. The more helpers; the merrier the team; and certainly the merrier the manager.  I promised my manager, who was hesitant at first because of past experiences where he had little to no help, that I would ensure he had all the help he needed.

My second immediate course of business was to select my coaching staff.  After careful consideration, including an assessment of my new team’s political landscape, I approached a few individuals who I felt would be able to help me on the ice during practice, on the bench during games and at the rink in general. 

My first choice was an unaffiliated personal friend who has a great deal of hockey experience, having actually coached the Boy a few moons ago.  I am very fortunate that he agreed to give up a fair bit of his personal time to help me out. I will gladly pay him back in spades because I’m confident he will be an invaluable resource in terms of providing objective opinions and feedback on player and team performance.  I believe the parent group will also be pleased with this choice as there can be no concern regarding bias for one player over another as can often be the case when a parent/coach is involved.  My other assistant and alternate assistant (required to fill in during inevitable scheduling conflicts) will be parents who I know have previous coaching experience; in one case with me on the Devil’s team a couple of years back.  I trust they will follow my lead where fair play, ice time and a primary focus on individual player development are concerned.

The other roles already filled include the trainer/backup trainer, the fundraising committee of three and the social coordinator. Yes, a team does need a social coordinator to figure out accommodations, team meals and extracurricular activities during the 4 or 5 out-of-town tournaments that the team may attend during the season. At our first team meeting last night, one of the parents quipped that a social coordinator should also be charged with ensuring the parents’ social activities during tournaments are in order. However, I’m fairly certain our hockey dads and moms will have no difficulty entertaining themselves, if my observances from the past 10+ years are any indication.

Last night’s first team meeting was arranged to introduce the preliminary staff and to ask for volunteers for a few other positions (timekeepers, statisticians, dressing room moms (as we male coaches understandably aren’t allowed in until about 10 mins before a game) and someone to maintain a team Web site).  I also wanted to communicate some of the more immediate scheduling/tasks we have on our plate.  Fundraising, for instance, can never start too early as the team does have some early expenses to cover.  We do already have a pre-season September tournament we can and should register for right away in order to secure a spot.  Registration = Downpayment. So we’ll all be soliciting friends, neighbors and others shortly with a fine selection of frozen meats and seafood just in time for BBQ season and all in support of a wonderful cause indeed.

Our initial meeting, cut short by a cold Spring drizzle down by the lake, also provided an opportunity for the players to really meet; in some cases, for the first time.  This is very much a team of new faces from different places.  I had each introduce themselves and their parents, where present. I am still working on putting names to a couple of faces, but that of course will come with time.

The final course of business last night was the final determination of jersey numbers. Each year there are inevitably conflicts between players who would like the same number. The Devil, for instance, has had a conflict each of the last three years – she apparently favours very popular numbers. Her only problem, in this regard, is that she is not what you would call “lucky” when it comes to the use of tie-breaking measures. As such, she has not had her number of choice (#8) in any of the past three seasons. Instead, she has been #18, #6 and most recently #4, which are at least even numbers, but admittedly poor consolations from her perspective.  Her brother, by comparison, has donned the #3 (just like yours truly I might proudly add) since he started playing the game.

Last night, it was decided between the Devil and her new rival for #8 (one of her teammates from last year) would partake in a best 2 out of 3 rock-paper-scissors competition.  She would naturally come out on the wrong end, though she did force a third and deciding face-off. This coming season the Devil will be #7; which I was quick to point out has quite often been referred to as a “lucky” number.  We will see what luck it brings this year I’m sure.

Perhaps more by good fortune or planning than luck, I do have a very good feeling about this group – of players and parents combined. Both, of course, are necessary to ensure a successful and enjoyable season for all. I am committed to doing all I can to facilitate a positive, fun and open environment. Early indications are that I won’t be alone in his endeavour; which I was sincerely hoping would be the case. I am not so naive to think the coming season will not have its challenges, but I’m hopeful that we’ve set a course on a fairly bump-free journey.

And if nothing else, I will definitely come out of this exercise with a new appreciation for organization, collaboration and a few other -tions we’ll need to implement in order to survive a full season of minor hockey.

#imahockeydad #imahockeycoach

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