By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Outgoing Dundas Minor Hockey Association executive members encouraged new volunteers to improve communication and build on work done over the past year, after a controversial season of change in local minor hockey.
“It’s been a long and challenging year, but a great deal has been accomplished,” said last year’s president Jamie Sands before stepping down, at Sunday afternoon’s annual general meeting.
After the executive election one year ago was challenged by association members, the Ontario Minor Hockey Association took the rare step of advising dissolution of the executive and helping organize a second election.
At that time the DMHA did not meet the City of Hamilton requirement of non-profit incorporation. The OMHA advised the local organization to not only complete the required incorporation, but also update association operating policies and its constitution to get in line with OMHA standards and Ontario law.
A largely new executive elected at last year’s special meeting had a busy year of administrative work, completing incorporation and policy reviews, while dealing with several internal disputes.
JoAnn Corey, who served one year as executive vice-president and oversaw writing of the new constitution, compared being on the 2011-2012 executive to drifting on the Atlantic Ocean in a lifeboat – waiting for everyone to jump over the side.
Neither Corey nor president Jamie Sands, credited by the executive for keeping the association afloat last summer for a period when he was the only executive member left, did not seek re-election partly due to the impact of the difficult year on their families.
“There is a right way and a wrong way to execute change,” Corey said. “We were not perfect, but we tried our very best.”
The Dundas Minor Hockey Association was officially incorporated as a non-profit on March 12. The new constitution – called By-Law #1 – was passed Sunday afternoon by a two-thirds majority of 44 voting DMHA members.
A financial review of the past season, as well as 2010-2011 is reportedly underway, as the association begins a mandated annual financial review.
Cathy Fisher, last year’s public relations director, takes over as president. Paul Ihnatiuk, who served on the executive as novice director, takes over as executive vice president. John Crowe is the new vice president of rep hockey. Crowe is new to the executive but has experience coaching and officiating minor hockey. Craig Wright and Stephen McKelvey were also new additions, in the roles of public relations director and special events director. LuAnne Bottrill returns as equipment manager.
The positions of sponsorship director, vice president junior house league and vice president senior house league had no nominations and remain open.
Outgoing and incoming executive members talked about building on last year’s focus on player development, and a new compassionate fund that sets aside any available funds to help families in need access minor hockey without affecting anyone’s registration fees.
Outgoing executives also offered pieces of advice to their replacements – and the general membership.
Sands said expectations of the volunteer executives should be lowered, as they try to balance demands of the sometimes difficult roles with their personal lives and careers.
“Communicate with each other face-to-face,” he said. “Get away from social media – it’s killing the fabric of our society. Talk to people.”
The association’s rules of operation – including dressing room access, hockey development, discipline and quality assurance – were also updated over the past year.
Outgoing sponsorship director Leslie Watson said every team had a local sponsor by the start of the season, despite efforts being delayed.
“There have been up’s and downs. But it has made the DMHA stronger,” she said.
Watson also presented the DMHA’s first two honourary lifetime memberships – to Dundas Blues Junior C general manger Steve Aglor, and Dundas Real McCoy’s general manager Don Robertson, for their support of minor hockey in Dundas.
Incoming president Cathy Fisher encouraged association members to “see ourselves on an island – not that lifeboat anymore.”
And Corey said in order to build the association, all members must help maintain its current momentum.
“The association can not run without volunteers,” Corey said, adding it took great “intestinal fortitude” from executive members to complete the necessary work of the past year.
“You guys have incredible colons,” she said.