The puck has dropped on another minor hockey season in the OMHA! We are so excited to be back on the ice and see everyone’s smiling faces. There are great programs in store this season that will help players both new and returning, as well as our Associations help to deliver the best programming possible for skates of all levels and skills.
You may have seen #HockeyIsFun being used on our social media platforms – this is part of a registration campaign to remind everyone why this is the best sport on earth. It features assets in Mandarin and Punjabi as a way to speak to families in those languages and invite them into our game and connect them with their local minor hockey association. There is also a Parent Kit to share with hockey moms and dads what they need to know ahead of getting their kid into the rink.
“We wanted to speak as we talk about the game. We’re fans of the game and it all boils down to – we love it. So, we wanted to get that message across, that playing hockey is fun,” said OMHA Executive Director Ian Taylor.
Along with working with new hockey families, we’ve also been listening to our current membership. While examining registration trends and the feedback from our players, the OMHA is introducing a non-bodychecking Representative option for this season.
“We had players who wanted to keep playing at the skill level that they were capable without just that one element of the game,” said Taylor.
“Understanding that there is a huge desire for athletes that still want that Rep feel and experience four times a week, at a little higher at a competitive level of hockey but don’t want the element of body checking, they can go and participate in that. There was a definite ask for that,” said Michael Dundas, the OMHA’s Manager of Hockey Development.
A new stream of MD is being introduced to the U9 age group as well.
“All players should have access to the same volume of hockey that they choose but still be tiered by ability. That’s really the essence of it,” said Taylor. “It’s trying to do everything we can to give players a great start and learn and enjoy the game. Players will find their watermark in terms of what level and how often they want to play.”
Other programs to keep an eye out for this season include the OMHA’s Player and Goalie Assist, where free sets of equipment are distributed to associations to support their efforts in Try Hockey and gear swap initiatives.
The iPad Assist Program supports associations as they deliver programming and will break down the initial costs of hardware needed for the digital game sheet software by supplying a minimum of one iPad supplied to each Association. Having all games scored digitally offers valuable information, trends, and in-depth analysis of the occurrences at all OMHA games, providing a comprehensive understanding of the actual happenings and emerging patterns. It will also provide the opportunity to address teachable moments and areas of emphasis for Players, Team Officials and Game Officials and the game overall.
Team sponsorship through jersey patches from Dairy Farmers of Ontario and Desjardins supply additional funding to teams that can help offset some of the costs that occur during the regular season such as registration, tournament fees, and other expenses.
The Referee Assist program is returning for another season as well.
We will also be keeping the conversations going with our friends at the Carnegie Initiative and Respect Group.
“How can we make our sport more inclusive? How can we provide tools and support to our coaches? The partnerships that we’ve created with these groups, we go to them for the latest and greatest. This is a lot of learning for us,” said Taylor.
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Aaron is the Founder and CEO of The Coaches Site, the #1 online resource for hockey coaches, and also the host of the Glass & Out podcast. He is married with two boys, believes Major League is the best sports movie of all-time, is scared of heights and is mildly obsessed with the Alabama Crimson Tide football program.