Schedule Changes, Please Check-Additional Information Regarding Season, News (Huntsville Minor Hockey)

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Schedule Changes, Please Check-Additional Information Regarding Season
Submitted By Kelly Farnsworth on Monday, September 28, 2020
Please Check the schedule for this week's ice time in the below article: "It's Time to Hit the Ice".

Unfortunately, the schedule was changed after I posted it. Please make sure you have viewed the updated one. I am very sorry for any confusion this may have caused.
 


It was brought to my attention that another board member had edited the article I posted to include players' full names. As I went in to change the information back to first initial, last name to respect player privacy, I noticed that some of the players had also been moved around to different groups. As I do not wish to cause any more confusion in an already confusing process for our families, I feel it necessary to leave the schedule as it has been edited for this week as any more changes at this point will only cause further confusion. Please Check the Schedule to be certain you have the updated times. I apologize for any confusion or upset the posting of full names and the changes to the groupings have caused.

To be clear, the groupings ARE NOT set teams. Teams will have 10 players per team. The groupings for this week are just to get kids out on the ice and skating. These groups will not remain for the season. The volunteers who have stepped up to cover skates this week are not necessarily the coaches your kids will have for the season. Once the kids have had an opportunity to get back to some skating and drills, we will work with the coaches to attempt to balance the teams to the best of our ability, within the timelines we have before we need to move to rostering our teams. We are doing this in hopes that we can provide similar competition levels between teams and that we can make this as fun as we can for all the kids. We are working with South Muskoka and Muskoka Rock (as they are in the same public health unit as us) in some divisions to try and create cohort bubbles to provide the most variety of teams we can within the parameters we are given. We are permitted to create bubbles of a maximum 50 players. We will attempt to tier our teams to provide similar competition levels. This process is not complete, therefore, at this point we don't know how many teams we will have in each bubble with the other centres. This also means we don't know at this point how many teams we will need to create in each tier in any division. Our goal is to try and have as many teams as we can (maximum 5) in each bubble for variety of teams to play. One of the challenges is, we have strict numbers parameters that don't necessarily work seamlessly with the number of players we have in any given division - we are limited to a maximum 10 players per team and maximum 50 players per bubble. We are not permitted to go over by even 1 past the maximum.

I received several questions over the weekend regarding the grouping of kids for these initial skates. As these aren't set teams, I feel some people are allowing themselves to get overly worked up over the groups. For transparency, to divide the kids out to maximize our ice times this week I needed to have some kind of a formula to do this. Also, please note, we are given the latitude of moving kids around within bubbles. We are able to move kids between bubbles if this is done before any games have been played. However, we are asked to keep any movement between bubbles to a minimum if at all possible. Because of this, I tried to roughly have groups created that may potentially have some of the players within a bubble from the first skate (with the understanding that we would move kids as deemed necessary by coaches to help make balanced teams). We are not permitted tryouts or formal evaluations of players like would normally happen. The way I divided players up was to cross reference the registrations with the preregistration that was completed in the summer. If players indicated they wished to tryout for a representative team I placed them in that rough bubble initially, without any analyzing of whether I thought that player's skill was of a tier 1 or tier 2 level. If the numbers didn't quite work, I then cross referenced the players with the rosters from last season and moved a few kids around based on the level of hockey they played last season. That was done across the board to give us a rough starting point. Then once the kids have had an opportunity to skate a couple of times, we would work with the coaches to see how we can most equitably balance the teams. Unfortunately, with the Schedule Edit that was made without my knowledge, there are a few kids who were moved from where they were initially placed, so they don't actually fall under the above criteria that I had worked within to create the initial groups. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused, but wish to emphasize that no teams or bubbles have been set and these first skates are simply to get the kids back on the ice. When I found out some kids had been moved, I made the decision not to change them back as I know all these changes just adds to an already confusing situation for families.

There were some families who missed the registration deadline. I am looking at the Wait List that generated over the weekend and if we can add kids in and make the numbers work, we will do our best to get those kids on the ice. We have to adhere to our numbers restrictions. We want to see as many kids get back on the ice who want to be there. We will be reaching out to families with kids on the Wait List and letting them know if we can add them in.

I would like to thank all the coaches, trainers and on-ice volunteers that have come forward and volunteered their time both to get us rolling this week and potentially to be rostered to a team for a season. I cannot thank you all enough. Without these volunteers, we would not be able to have hockey. I would also like to thank the families who are being both supportive and flexible in the situation we find us in due to the pandemic. To those of you who have gone out of your way to express support and thanks to the volunteers attempting to navigate all the challenges to make hockey happen, your kindness is appreciated more than you know.

I fielded many questions this weekend, which I understand this scenario creates many questions. However, there were some people who crossed the line into harassment and abuse towards HMHA volunteers since we posted our schedule. I need to strongly state, that this type of behaviour cannot be tolerated. This season will be different. As long as we are in Stage 3, hockey will not be the same as past seasons. Hockey will take more of a recreational format for all levels with smaller teams and a 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 format. We are working on having games with some other centres within our public health unit where the numbers can be made to work. There have been countless hours getting us to the point where we have a Return to Play plan and have satisfied all that has been asked of us from our provincial government, public health, governing hockey bodies and our local facilities. Making this work and getting us to this point has been more than challenging and will continue to require lots of volunteer hours. This has been accomplished with a skeleton Executive as we have been unsuccessful in recruiting new members. I have to be very honest, personally, after this past weekend, I have been taking a hard look at if I can continue in my position. I really am doing the best I can and intend to continue to do so, but I cannot persevere if I am going to be attacked for every decision I make. I do not make decisions without a great deal of consideration and I try my very best to be as fair as I can to make the choices that best serve the majority of the kids. This does not mean that I will always be able to accommodate every individual request because that simply doesn't work when you look at the big picture. I try my best to make things work for the majority - my goal is to have as many kids be able to get on the ice that want to as I possibly can and attempt to structure things to be as fair as possible and for the kids to have fun.

Quite honestly, as parents/families/caregivers we all need to be thankful that we are currently able to have any hockey for our kids amidst this pandemic and all the restrictions that have been imposed on us as a society in an effort to protect us. So many of the kids' normal activities were taken away from them in March, with many still not available. In some areas, the kids are gradually having a little bit of "normal" returned to them with school and other activities, but everything is in a modified format. Hockey is no different.

We will do our best to provide the best programming we can for the kids. If you are unhappy with the format and how we are structuring the season because it is just too different, I understand that. If you do not want your child to participate and wish to pull them out before their first ice time, please contact us and we will discuss a refund. If you are happy to have your child get back on the ice and take advantage of getting some hockey back in their life, I ask that you be supportive of the volunteers that are working hard to make hockey work. We cannot tolerate any harassment. We ask that you be patient and flexible and support our volunteers while we work through all that is being asked of us (all the while having jobs, families, challenges and busy lives just like the rest of you). What cannot happen is you choose to have your child participate in hockey, but think that it will be ok to harass the volunteers while they are participating. This type of behaviour is never acceptable, but this year there simply isn't time for our volunteers to have to field abuse, while trying to make this season work in such a challenging environment. This type of behaviour is the main reason it is difficult to solicit volunteers at the best of times as people don't want to be subjected to this negativity while they are volunteering their time to make programs run for our kids. 

We have great families in HMHA and we are relying on all of you to help us pull this off. We need your support now more than ever - this includes all of our executive staff and our volunteer convenors, managers, trainers, on-ice volunteers and coaches.

I am looking forward to seeing you all at the rink!
GO OTTERS GO!!
Kelly Farnsworth - HMHA President
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