RED DEER – Hockey is changing, but more importantly, the kids who play it are changing.
And these changes have a significant impact on the role of minor hockey coaches and administrators.
Change, and its impact on the sport of hockey, was one of the themes stressed by Allyson Tufts, in her keynote address Friday night to open the 111th Annual General Meeting weekend for Hockey Alberta.
“When you talk about the game changing, you need to remember our youth is changing. So, if you start to see something funny with one of the kids, you don’t need to fix it, but you need to recognize it and tell somebody. It’s important,” said Tufts.
Tufts is a hockey mom from eastern Ontario who, in 2015, wrote about her experiences in a book entitled “Lessons from Behind the Glass.” Since then, she has worked with Hockey Canada and BC Hockey, and toured with former CFLer Mike ’Pinball’ Clemons and former NHL goalie Kirk Maclean, talking about creating a better atmosphere for young athletes.
In her presentation to more than 100 minor hockey association representatives and Hockey Alberta volunteers, Tufts reminded them of the key role they play in the development of our youth.
“When you think of you all here as volunteers, on a Friday night, in crappy weather, if you don’t think what you do is important, you are so wrong. What you do matters, and it matters for our youth,” said Tufts. “Our youth needs hockey, it needs sports, and it needs to learn how to be resilient.”
Tufts reflected on what her son gained from hockey while he was a player - integrity, strength, friendship and resilience.
“We didn’t teach him that, hockey did,” Tufts said.
And in this digital age of cell phones and social media, the hockey rink has emerged as the new “safe house” for our youth – where the phone is put away, and there is an opportunity for adults to talk and be heard.
“The one place where you can have influence is in the dressing room, in the arena. When they are on the ice, they’re there doing something they love,” Tufts said. “And we need to use the moments with them, when they’re listening, and they’re not on their phones, and they’re in the dressing room, to teach them to be strong good individuals, as well as good players.”
For more information on Allyson Tufts, go to her website: lessonsfrombehindtheglass.com.
The AGM weekend continues on Saturday at Red Deer College. In the morning, minor hockey association executive members will participate in a session with representatives from Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada. The focus is on building a new national direction, and resetting the focus of hockey in Alberta by building a plan that develops players, grows the game and educates parents. In the afternoon, Hockey Alberta Awards will be presented, followed by the AGM itself starting at 2:30 pm.