A room full of empty chairs was what Greg Childs came to face with when he attended the annual general meeting of the Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association.
It wasn’t a pretty sight for a guy who has been an avid supporter of minor hockey for the past 15 years in a number of volunteer roles, from executive member to coach and his present day involvement in the AAA midget female hockey setup under the CBMA.
The Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association, with the exception of two paid staff, operates a minor hockey program for almost 400 boys and girls in the Corner Brook area with volunteers being the backbone of its existence and survival.
Being one of only three parents to attend the meeting was disheartening for Childs who expected to see people take advantage of their chance to voice their concerns about the program, offer suggestions for change to make it better or better yet offer themselves as a candidate for one of the vacant executive positions.
“It was devastating,” Childs said Thursday afternoon. “From a parent that’s been involved and around the rink for the past 15 years to see nobody show up to what is really an important part of setting up the next year of hockey.”
On the association’s Facebook Page, disappointment in the low turnout was expressed in a post about the AGM.
Some people said they didn’t know about it. Others weren’t available to attend but would have liked to be there.
The association promoted the meeting to each division through its divisional representatives and there were over 1,000 views on the association’s notice on its Facebook page.
Whatever kept people away matters little to Childs now, but he wonders if people really understand the gravity of the situation when the lack of numbers could lead people to believe people don’t really care about the future of the program.
“If they think it’s dropping now then it’s going to be totally gone if people don’t step up to the plate,” he said.
Childs had no problem lending a helping hand when his son and daughter embraced the game. He felt it was something he should do if time would permit so he did what he could knowing the survival of the program depends on parents getting involved or live with the repercussions of what he believes is the only two options available.
“Either the hockey dies or we end up having to pay astronomical registration fees because we now have to start paying people to do the things that historically has been done by volunteers,” he said.
There are a lot of young couples who have young sons or daughters playing hockey in the system and Childs wants that group to give serious consideration about being involved in charting the course for the future because it’s their children who will benefit.
“The key for them is the opportunity to set the course for the future,” he said. “If you got concerns about the program you shouldn’t be talking to another parent in the stands. Bring it to the executive and there’s no better time to bring it to the executive than the AGM.”
According to its Facebook page, the association is planning on holding the AGM again in September with hopes that parents will be out in full force to support the program.
This is something that Childs doesn’t view in a positive light.
According to Childs, the city’s program has been starting later than others over the past few years so he’s worried that it may even be a tougher challenge now with a delay in getting a new executive in place to work on a blueprint for next season. He also wonders what it means to executive members who hold positions that were due to expire at the end of the 2017-2018 because they are now in a situation where they are somewhat compelled to stay involved until a new slate of officers take over the helm and he would understand if those people would be committed to doing what needs to be done over the summer to be in good shape for next winter.
“I think this is going to put us further behind the eight ball,” he said.
CMBMHA president Jackie Simms, who has one more season left on her term, believes the timing of the meeting may have had an impact on the attendance and she wasn’t overly concerned about the number of parents in the room.
“We’re into spring now and people are out of the hockey mode,” Simms said. “They are getting into the baseball, soccer and summer sports. The kids are busy in the evenings doing other sports so the parents are gone with those and out of hockey mode. It doesn’t become a priority.”
Simms said a lot of minor hockey associations opt to hold annual general meetings in the fall of the year when people are excited about a new season and that’s something she figures could boost the numbers so the AGM will now be held after Labour Day weekend.
“Then people are gearing back into the hockey season and I think the interest then increases because you’re in the mode of starting a new season.”
She’s confident the level of commitment from parents will be a bigger priority with the meeting unfolding close to the start of the season instead of at the end when people go their separate ways to pursue other interests.
“I think the timing was a big aspect and I really feel that people when they get in the hockey mode in the fall will come out and support the association and the kids,” she said.