Let’s say you have a beef with (pick any that apply):
• Your kid’s coach
• The league director
• The rules
• How teams were formed
• The association’s board members (all or some)
• The shape of the puck
Complain all you want during a season. The stock response may be, “Then come to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and either speak up or run for a position yourself.” The offer does make a point. If there’s something you believe needs attention, stewing about it for seven months of a season won’t make you feel better. Then again, an AGM might not either. These things aren’t exactly high brow entertainment, even though they’re always in 3D.
The only exciting one I ever attended was the one in which I lost the presidency. It was the largest turnout the association had ever seen. Once word got out of my ambition, parents and hockey types showed up either to watch me go down in flames or to observe me as a pitiable curiosity.
I lost by six votes. The chap who won, also a coach, possessed a few tools my toolbox lacked. Tact was one. Diplomacy another. Now, years later, I heave a sigh of relief for the association. I escaped what surely would have morphed into a leadership vacuum.
Actually, everyone has the right to complain whenever they wish. Which they do. Frequently. Hockey boards listen to and act on complaints because it comes with the territory.
Still, it behooves parents to go to AGMs for a number of important reasons:
Meet the board: While the face of minor hockey is the coach, most everything else is done by the association’s board. These are largely names on a list or website, sometimes someone you know, but often not. You want to meet your kid’s teacher from time to time? Then you should want to meet the board, too.
Face-to-face: Hockey parents are renowned for writing email tomes or leaving nasty voicemail messages. Meeting someone in person to pose a question or express dissatisfaction can be disarming and illuminating. The people who run your child’s hockey program and tinker with your hard-earned money are ones you need to meet. Hiding behind an email is - sorry - a bit cowardly.
If you aren’t part of the solution…: Not buying a lottery ticket eliminates any chance of winning, however minute. Similarly, not being involved nor asking pointed questions driven by well-thought out rationales gives you nary a hope of eliciting a satisfactory response, let alone an improvement.
Take ownership: Even if you say or do nothing, you’ll feel part of the process simply for having been there and listened.
In Hockey Canada’s long and luscious history, every person who has served on a board at any level began by going to an AGM.
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