Tuesday, May 4, 2021
While the pandemic made for a very different and challenging hockey season for many Minor Hockey Associations (MHA), one MHA found a way to thrive during the pandemic. The Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association was able to offer their members as close to a normal season as possible.
A concerted effort by the entire community allowed players and coaches alike to get out on the ice and play the game we all love. Whitehorse MHA put together a Return to Play Plan which outlined the safety measures and guidelines that were going to be put in place and followed to allow their MHA to move forward with the Medical Officer’s support within the City of Whitehorse’s standards. The Return to Play Plan was created with input from viaSport, BC Hockey, Yukon Government and other resources.
During all phases of the viaSport return to play plan, Whitehorse MHA volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure player safety remained the focus. Chairs and staging areas took the place of dressing rooms, which were closed. Players came to the rink completely dressed for the ice with their skates being put on in the parking lot, and then they were carried to the ice. Chairs, door handles and touch points were constantly sanitized by volunteers. A group effort was necessary. Eventually, dressing rooms opened but number restrictions brought additional planning measures which continued to be met with a “can do” attitude from volunteers, parents and players. Divisions were broken into two, ice times were modified, and rink dividers were put in place
On ice programming was re-vamped to accommodate Covid-19 gathering limits, while at the same time provided engaging and exciting opportunities for development and competition. Whitehorse Minor Hockey found a successful balance of providing grass roots programming and “rep” player development throughout the season. Four-on-four game series were initiated, and other creative competitions took place. The association nurtured a large roster of dedicated officials who worked hard to ensure regular on-ice protocol were taking place, and also were tasked with masking reminders for coaches and off-ice officials. Whitehorse MHA also held Sunday night Zoom Coaches Club with coach mentors and thought leaders from Global Sport Academy to engage and develop coaches and keep the lines of communication open.
Whitehorse MHA was extremely cognizant that the season could be suspended at any time, therefore they put new fiscal policies in place to ensure that no unearned income from registration fees was being spent. They allowed families to register by putting down a small deposit, as second payment was taken as the season continued to progress and a final payment was taken in the fall when it appeared that things would continue moving forward. Although other associations saw a drastic decline in membership, Whitehorse MHA was able to retain 438 members compared to the previous season number of 455. A difference of only 17 athletes (only 4% decline in registration numbers).
Whitehorse MHA did a tremendous job to be among only a few associations in all of Canada who were able to provide their athletes with as close to a normal season as possible, and they are deserving recipients of this year’s Frank Spring Minor Hockey Association of the Year Award! Congratulations!