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Deflections: It's AGM season

The most exciting minor hockey Annual General Meeting I ever attended was the one in which I lost the presidential election.

Over 50 people attended the AGM that year in the community where I coached. It was the largest turnout the association had ever seen. I’m backwardly proud I’d been able to galvanize the community to attend. Word got out—or rather, I put it out—that I wanted to be president of the local minor hockey association. Parents and hockey types probably turned up either to watch me go down in flames or observe me as a pitiable curiosity.

The chap I ran against, also a coach, possessed a few tools my toolbox didn’t have. Tact was one. Diplomacy another. Administrative expertise, too, I’d bet.

After the election, the man tasked with tallying votes pulled me aside. “You lost by six,” he said. Clearly my campaign had faltered somewhere along the way.

Now, years later, I heave a sigh of relief for the association. It escaped what surely would have morphed into a leadership vacuum.

As a rule, AGMs don’t produce either the thrill of a hotly contested election or raging debates. Once over, elected/acclaimed hockey execs love to boast that people have no right to complain if they didn’t attend the AGM.

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 of trying to improve the game or at the very least stay the course. Neither is accomplished in a nation of hockey experts without someone whining.

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 websites, sometimes someone you know, but usually not. They’re the ones distributing jerseys at tryouts and busily scampering about with clipboards. Then they vanish, seemingly teleported to an omniscient, omnipotent vantage point in the clouds.

In fact, the people who run your child’s hockey program and tinker with your money are the ones you need to meet.

Hockey parents are renowned for writing email tomes to these mysterious program leaders. But frankly I haven’t often seen the same anonymous bravado at a keyboard displayed in person, backed up with proper research. There’s a world of difference between expressing face-to-face dissatisfaction versus in an email or phone call.

Board members, likely ones with something to hide or suffering from a chronic lack of skills or knowledge, often do find tricks to avoid the paying customers. I’ve seen some truly devious manoeuvering.

But that shouldn’t stop people from going. It also shouldn’t prevent any member of the hockey community from being able to step forward and pose a question or make a point.

That, folks, is not a privilege; it’s your right.

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