2020-21 Season Review
Ho hum just another boring hockey season.
We knew it would be tough to top SEMI Hockey’s 2019-20 season, where we were named the PCAHA Association of the Year, but little did we know how challenging of a season it would be for everyone.
This season tested the resiliency, dedication, and love of the game for all involved at SEMI; players, coaches, officials, executive, volunteer and parents. We learned a lot about what makes our SEMI Hockey community so special.
In the spring of 2020, when COVID sprung on the season and we started our off-season, we knew flexibility and adaptability would be key. Some of our immediate moves included delaying registration opening and implementing a payment installment plan to ease the burden and uncertainty for the season. We were pleased to see that the registration response was still strong with about a 98% returning player registration rate.
We created a video training series to allow players to do off-ice safe distanced activities at home to stay prepared for the season.
SEMI Hockey took a leadership role to increase collaboration with other associations around the lower mainland to prepare for a return to hockey plan. SEMI Hockey hosted weekly calls with all PCAHA associations to discuss challenges and get everyone on the same page for a fall restart. SEMI Hockey chaired the PCAHA Return to Play committee that eventually led to a phased approach to getting the season started and ultimately getting back to game play.
We were fortunate to be able to offer our annual hockey school in August, although we had to work around some COVID protocols and ice time challenges, we were proud to offer a program that most members could take advantage of.
We made the decision to start the season in smaller “cohort groups” rather than with a formal Rep Evaluation or assessment period in the interest of keeping contacts smaller. We had a terrific response to our call for volunteers to help organize and lead these cohorts for the first six weeks of the season.
Once given the go ahead to start team formation, we were able to successfully enact a modified rep selection process and begin team formation in preparation for game play.
We were once again able to work collaboratively with our partners at PCAHA to put together game schedules in cohorts and organize officials to get some game play off the ground in most divisions. As conditions dictated and restrictions were imposed, we successfully adapted to in-house game play for a short period. Unfortunately, further restrictions were enacted as public health was the priority and we needed to adapt back to a practice only environment. A lot of credit goes to our coaches for their patience and adaptability during these phases, as they had to reach to the very bottom of their bags of tricks to design activities that kept the kids safe and still engaged and developing.
We forged deeper partnerships with our facility partners as we collaborated regularly on ever changing safety plans and arena protocols. Even with ice times reduced to 60 minutes, 30 minutes in between sessions, and reduced capacity on the ice, we were still able to offer a similar amount of ice time as previous seasons, with the exception of not having your traditional road game to beef up your weekly schedule, of course.
One of the most difficult aspects of the season, was not being able to share the hockey experience with parents, due to the strict limitations on spectators that is in place at all facilities. Some opportunities for live streaming were well received, however, we recognize this was not ideal, as we know how much families want to share in their child’s hockey experience. Further, we acknowledge that the social engagement with other families on your teams was unfortunately reduced this year.
We were fortunate that we were able to execute a couple of special additional programs this season under modified conditions; The Bauer First Shift Program was able to accommodate 21 ‘new to hockey’ players and provide a first-time hockey experience that hopefully hooks them for life. Also, our partnership with Earl Marriot Secondary allowed us to restart our academy program in February 2021 with over 50 students training together in the spring.
From a financial standpoint, this was a season of unpredictability, with about 11 different budget scenarios written and re-written as conditions changed. We were fortunate to have continued to receive support from the Provincial Gaming Grant as well as take advantage of some COVID specific grants and programs to help us balance our budget. We faced increased ice costs, due to cleaning and staffing charges, however, were able to find some reductions in other expenses related to game play costs. Being able to offer our summer hockey school and some other in-season programs, helped on the revenue side, despite losing opportunities for tournament and sponsorship income. All in all, we are tracking to be able to offer a responsible balanced budget at the conclusion of the season, which given all the uncertainty of the season is well done.
Now we plan for 2021-22; what will this look like? We hope for a return to normal, but we do know that whatever comes at us SEMI will be prepared, after this season we can adapt to anything.