New bantam coaches saved the year: WMHA president
The season is a go.
The season is a go.
After a nerve-wracking week, the Whitehorse Minor Hockey Association’s bantam house league has found enough coaches to begin the year.
The four bantam house league teams were scheduled to begin practices Tuesday, Oct. 2. But with only one coaching staff in place to start the year, the calls went out in earnest to find new coaches.
Jason Legault, Guy Morgan and Jeff Hunston all answered the bell within the last week.
“The league’s definitely breathing a sigh of relief, because without coaches, there is no house league,”
WMHA board president Carl Burgess told the Star today.
“They saved the year, or at least half the year, for bantam house league.”
House league coordinator Gary Seed was relieved to be able to secure the head and assistant coaches for the new season.
“It’s a commitment of time and effort, and passion too,” he said. “It took a few e-mails and phone calls, but some people stepped forward and that’s great.
“We’re tremendously appreciative that they did step forward.”
The commitment level consists of three nights a week – two games and a practice.
The minor hockey season runs from October to April.
After securing coaches, the new bantam teams were drafted Tuesday night, and the first practices were held last night.
An influx of new bantam-age players this season meant the league had to add another team.
“It’s a fantastic hockey community,” Burgess said.
“There’s lots of kids that want to play hockey. The board is really trying hard to make sure that everybody who wants to play hockey can play hockey and these folks that stepped up recognize that need. It’s definitely a feel-good story.”
Team coaches are as follows: Castle Rock – Ken Olson, Ron Guenette, Yves Paradis; Envirolube – Jason Legault, Steve Smith; Yukon Office Supply – Guy Morgan and Steve McGrath; and Pacific Northwest Moving – Jeff Hunston, Colin Dendrys.
Hunston is the only non-parent coach.
The house league also includes the Peewee A Mustangs – who play up one age group – coached by Jake Jarousek and Martin Lawrie.
Burgess estimated that 60-plus players play in the bantam league, while approximately 420 are registered with the association.
“We still need people,” he stressed. “The league is growing. We still don’t have a coach for the Bantam B Mustangs. There’s no team unless there’s a coach.”
Seed said that finding coaches gets tougher as players get older.
“If we’re going to have a challenge, it’s usually at the bantam level,” he said. “The tykes, novices and atoms are usually pretty good.”
The coaching situation wasn’t the only shortage the league faced this year.
The association has also put a call out for referees for all age levels.
“At the beginning of every year, we suddenly find out which referees have left town or are no longer interested in refereeing,” said WMHA referee coordinator Michael Kearney. “So the panic button was hit right off the bat.”
Kearney said the fact that the bantam league is starting late was actually helpful for his situation.
“That saved my bacon in a lot of respects,” he said.
New referee interest has begun to trickle in after an announcement was placed on the league website.
One issue is some of the new recruits still need to take training courses, currently scheduled for two dates in each of late October and November.
“Unfortunately, that’s quite a while into the season and it’s kind of leaving us short right off the bat,” Kearney admitted.
The current referee pool will be called into action more frequently for the time being.
“We’ve got a very core group of people right now that have stepped forward, and they’re awesome,” said Kearney. “But things will get much better for me when the courses are complete.”
Referees are a key learning component for younger age groups, said Burgess.
“All the hockey leagues in the city are growing, so there is a bit of a competition for the refs in town,” Burgess said. “We have fantastic referees. We just need more of them.”