Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association (GTMHA) had a good turnout as far as players go, but the majority of Midget age players won’t be able to lace the skates up this winter if volunteer coaches don’t step up to man the bench.
Parents received an email from GTMHA Wednesday morning explaining that if they could not find coaches to cover two more teams by noon on Friday the teams would fold, and that only one team would be registered.
“We have about 20 qualified parents and no one wants to help out,” said GTMHA first vice president Kim Drake. “We’ve been begging to try to get people to help out and no one wants to step up.”
The GTMHA is governed by West Kootenay Hockey Association rules and BC Hockey and if coaches are not found, they will roster the first 17 players and two goalies that registered, and the remaining 40 or so would receive partial refunds and sent on their way. Similarly, if only two coaches are recruited the association will roster the first four goalies and 34 skaters leaving some 20 registered players out of the league.
According to one parent and former coach, the problem has been growing and pressure from the GTMHA has left many of them frustrated with coaching and especially angry at the prospect of their kids not playing.
“We pay to be a part of that group, you don’t make it the responsibility of the participants to find the coaching staff.”
Part of the problem is that House League, as well as Rep, has its own certification, and even an NHL coach is not qualified to get behind the bench of a novice house team until he signs up for that particular course. It’s hard to tell that to someone who is a volunteer and has a Level 4 coaching certificate.
“The whole process is set up by BC Hockey and Hockey Canada, and they have in the last two years, really clamped down on people who just didn’t take these courses,” said Drake. “If you are coaching say the Smoke Eaters doesn’t mean you can come and coach a junior novice program.”
The email to parents and the prospect of axing two teams was unprecedented in the brief history of GTMHA, but midget director Brian Youngson offered some hope in an email to the Trail Times on Wednesday.
“I have had a bunch of inquiries so far this morning and I’m betting by the end of the day I will have the coaches I need.”
According to the GTMHA website, potential coaches are required to have their National Coaching Certification and Respect-in-Sport course, and a team must also have someone with a Safety (HCSP) certificate as well. However, volunteers do not need all the certification immediately, but have until December to acquire the necessary paperwork.
“We’ll pay for any certification that they need,” said GTMHA second vice president Dara Waterstreet. “But B.C. Hockey has their guidelines about what certification they need, but they need it by Dec. 1. So they can defintely start yesterday without proper certification, but we need to get the criminal records check started, and we need to get signed up for some clinics but we pay for all that.”
Time is ticking and with the season scheduled to start Saturday, the league must have the necessary coaches by Friday.
“West Kootenay has the final say on all the rosters and they will, boom, unqualify and say this team is unqualified they don’t have a certified coach,” said Drake. “It’s very frustrating . . . but if you don’t have that one person, and one person on the ice gets hurt the whole thing is null and void.”
The Respect in Sport course is available online, while house league minor hockey certification goes in Castlegar on Oct. 19 and GTMHA will refund the cost to anyone who gets certified.
“My guess is we have a bunch of great parents, and lots of people that have coached in the past,” said Waterstreet. “I have faith.”