The vice-president of Castlegar Minor Hockey has quit the organization to protest the results of a disciplinary hearing against one of the league’s coaches.
Chris Sherbinin stepped down from the CMHA executive last month after a disciplinary committee ruled a coach would only be suspended for one game after an incident described as “an assault” by the parents of a child on the team.
“I don’t feel the investigation was appropriate, and the victim became victimized – that’s the long and the short of it,” says Sherbinin.
Castlegar News will not name the child or parents, or his team, in order to protect the child’s identity.
But the parents say their child has quit the team because of his coach, and the province’s amateur hockey governing body is investigating the case.
“I just want it to change for the children. It is not safe,” the child’s mother told Castlegar News.
The mother said the incident occurred at a game on Feb. 2, when her child was playing at an event outside of Castlegar.
She said her husband watched one of the team’s coaches grab his son as he was stepping onto the ice.
“[The coach] grabbed [our son] with two hands, and with force, pinned him against the back wall to prevent him from going on the ice,” the mother wrote in a complaint to the CMHA. “I also understand that there may have been some harsh words that [the coach] said to [our son] while he held him against the wall.”
Other parents witnessed the exchange, the mother says, and the team’s head coach and the manager approached the boy’s father after the game and apologized for the incident, her statement reads.
About a week after the incident, the parents were called to a meeting of the Castlegar Minor Hockey disciplinary committee.
The mother says the board told her they wouldn’t take the matter lightly and that the coach wouldn’t be allowed back behind the bench until the matter was resolved.
About four days after the first disciplinary meeting, the family was asked to meet with the committee again, this time to hear an apology from the coach.
Not satisfied with apology
The mother says the coach did apologize for manhandling the youth and for saying inappropriate things.
“Heather [Anderson, a member of the disciplinary committee] asked [our son] if he was satisfied with the apology and [our son] said he was not. [Our son] was asked if he would be OK going forward and he said ‘not really.’”
The coach received a single-game suspension, and is back behind the bench with the team.
“The disciplinary committee has now concluded all investigations,” says a letter to the family sent Feb. 17 from the CMHA. “We stand behind the process we followed and the final decisions that were made.”
That’s not good enough for the mom. In a letter back to the committee, she writes:
“I obviously have a different opinion as to how children should be protected and treated and feel that Castlegar Minor Hockey is completely negligent when it comes to protecting children in their association,” she wrote in an email to the committee. “Furthermore, I am interested in the details of how CMHA is in support of losing minor hockey players due to abuse and how it is that abusive coaches are protected rather than players.”
Decision prompts resignation
Sherbinin, who has been vice-president of the CMHA for two years, said he quit because of the disciplinary board’s decision.
“I had real misgivings of how the investigation was done,” he says. “I’ve done other investigations of a similar nature, not involving this level of physical interaction, and have suspended coaches for a lot longer for a lot less.
“I expressed my misgivings to the disciplinary committee about the investigation. It fell on deaf ears. I was not heard, I was not even responded to, therefore I resigned.”
The Castlegar Minor Hockey Association said it would not comment on the investigation. No response was received from West Kootenay Minor Hockey.
An official with the provincial body, BC Hockey, said they were aware of the complaint and were investigating.
The spokesperson said the organization’s minor hockey relations co-ordinator has been tasked with looking into the parent’s complaint. There was no word on when or what schedule the investigation would follow.
In the meantime, the mother says her son has quit the sport, and she’s requested her two older children be allowed to play with other teams outside of Castlegar.
“We do not wish to contribute to an association that has little or no regard for our children and their safety,” she wrote. “We will be enrolling them in another association.”
At press time, the parents said the provincial minor hockey assocation told them to ask for a review of the decision and appeal the disciplinary committee ruling.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s going in circles back to the same people who decided to do nothing at all,” the mother says.
However, the parents have written to the CMHA to formally ask for an appeal.