I wanted to thank you for all your comments and suggestions made throughout the evaluation process. I know that change is often appears slow but, in other ways, it can be subtle and quick.
Reflecting on this past tow weeks (yeahp, we started all this 14 days ago!!), we have made some changes that I wanted to highlight that I feel were improvements to the process.
The first is relating to jerseys and the colors chosen for the opposing team. Though seemingly obvious to some, others such as myself didn't recognize how similar the green and navy jerseys appeared on the ice. During the first scrimmage it was brought to my attention and we never went back to having navy play against green for any of the following scrimmages. Also relating to jerseys, it was noted that having red jerseys playing against green jerseys was difficult for those with color blindness to differentiate between and this, too was rectified for the following scrimmages. These changes helped provide a more level evaluation for all players.
A second change relates to scrimmage shifts. The first change was to implement timed shifts. Though Bantam hockey is played with changes at stoppages and on-the-fly, having timed shifts prevented a significant imbalance in time to play and be visible to evaluators. Also, we started out with 75 second shifts. It was proven to be too long during each scrimmage on the first day. The scrimmage length was changed to 60 seconds and it appeared to be much less taxing and allowed players a better opportunity to present their true skill on the ice.
Another change that was implemented in the summer time but realized during this past weekend was the changes to the draft policies. As communicated to the board at the AGM, parents wanted the draft to be more representative of their player's efforts during evaluations. This made for a situation where planning for coaching staff couldn't be determined until the evaluation scores were finalized and, in some cases, coaches for teams below couldn't be selected until tiers above drafted their players, leaving us with no coaches at the level we were drafting. This voted on policy prevented the situation where a player was brought into a division or two above where they evaluated simply because their parent had volunteered to be a coach, thus putting more and, arguably, proper emphasis on the players placing where they should rather than helping the association with being able to make the easier decision to simply pull a player up in the ranks because we needed a coach. This caused delays in the draft process but, ultimately, helped better place players in tiers based on the merit of their evaluation scores than them having a parent willing to volunteer as a coach. Also, the reduction of the band of players visible to coaches during the draft from 2x to 1.5x addressed a concern that evaluations lost some of their value if the draft provided too large a pool of players available for selection. Though it wasn't necessarily to the benefit the coaches, most were very understanding of the change and its intent. I know the process of having a hybrid of coach's draft and independent evaluation is still not perfect but we are making changes to try and point it in a direction that we, all who are voting members at the AGM, feel make the team selection process better. I look forward to continuing to help refine and make improvements to this process.
We, unfortunately, found out after we had arranged ice and scheduled our evaluations that the Edmonton Federated Hockey League (EFHL) isn't starting their regular season game play until October 13th. Had we known this earlier, we would have pushed back our evaluations by a week. This would have granted more time for those who were still in evaluations with the Raiders or other associations to conclude their evaluation processes and more of those players would have been able to participate in the full SAMHA evaluation process. I can't stress enough that this is not a "Raiders issue" as this happened with players trying out for other associations as well. It may be more familiar because we are more familiar with the Raiders than other associations, but it is definitely not an issue unique to their processes. We are working to adapt to this and support the evaluation processes of the Raiders and other club hockey associations while finding a harmonious solution with our evaluation process as well. This doesn't come without its own issues in that some teams may not have the opportunity to practice prior to beginning league play but, based on the comments we have fielded so far this season, many people consider this favorable to having a larger number of exceptional circumstances entering our evaluation process. We have this on our radar for next year and, if the start date of the EFHL stays as it was this year, will be looking to push our evaluations back one more week.
Lastly, I'd like to make note of the change to having Dressing Room Attendant volunteers. Though this was an abrupt change, I feel like it was an important one. Once on a team, players in the dressing room have the benefit of adult supervision in the form of team staff coming in and out of the dressing room. This helps provide a safer environment for the players. It was evident that this presence was missing during our evaluation process and we addressed this concern by having two volunteers per dressing room. This was a quick and noticeable change that provided immediate impact for our players. I thank you all for being so understanding and for stepping up to volunteer to support this. As a community, though it was a mandated change, you all were very helpful and supportive in our concern for the safety of our children. For that I am very thankful and encouraged!
I look forward to continuing to being part of more of the process with each of you as the year progresses and finding other ways to help make improvements to work toward a successful season for all players on all teams. As always, if you have suggestions for improvement or have comments on how you felt the changes that have been implemented so far could be further refined, please send me a message. We're in this together in our attempts to make this the best year for our players ever!!