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Get to Know New OMHA President Peter Harmsen

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 06/18/24, 1:15PM EDT

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Stouffville resident acclaimed at OMHA AGM

Stouffville resident Peter Harmsen was acclaimed as President at the 2024 OMHA AGM. His extensive minor hockey experience began playing in the Brantford Minor Hockey Association and Church Hockey League (members of OMHA at the time). Over the years, he’s held various positions within Whitchurch-Stouffville MHA as a Trainer, House League Convenor and Executive Member. Harmsen was Vice-President and President of York Simcoe Minor Hockey League before becoming the OMHA Regional Director – Region 4. He was most recently the OMHA Vice President – Central District.

Other initiatives he’s been involved in include the Respect in Sport – Speak Out Facilitator program, a committee member and Chair within the OHF Minor Council and helping to lead Learn to Skate and Try Hockey Programs for 8-to-14-year-old participants in Stouffville.

What have you learned in your time as a Regional Director and Vice-President that can help you as President?
You learn to talk to people because that’s such a big part of the job. You have to learn to be patient. As Bob Hill instructed me many years ago, stop trying to hit home runs. You learn that communication and networking is so important.

What are you most looking forward to as President?
Working with the board and the membership to a common goal of getting kids into the game and keeping kids interested in hockey, as well as keeping and getting volunteers back into the game.

What are some of the initiatives or challenges that you'll be facing?
The challenges are keeping players and volunteers in the game of hockey, making participation in hockey a life choice. Enhance the recreational experience associated with hockey; team building, developing friendships, pride in being a teammate. The Ontario Minor Hockey Association needs to strike the delicate balance between the what the parents want for their children and what the associations need to maintain the programs they wish to provide.

There are people who want change and there’s people who want things to stay the same, but we can’t stay the same, we need to evolve to meet the requirements of our membership. It’s really important that we work together for the needs of the membership and yet we still have to follow the protocols and governance that’s out there. There’s lots of stuff going on.

How important are volunteers to minor hockey?
They are the lifeblood of the OMHA. They are the backbone. Without volunteers there is no hockey for kids, period. I know that there’s lots of positions that are paid now but that’s still a pretty small number compared to the total number of people that are involved and making it all work.

What is your closing message to parents, players and participants?
I think they have to be patient and understand that there’s processes we have to work through that might not always be the way they want it, but we are trying to have that balance between what’s important for them as a family, what’s important for the Associations and what’s important for the OMHA and hockey in the province of Ontario.


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