To be sure, there is a widespread notion that all is not well as it pertains to minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
I have heard it from parents who have kids playing within the Sault Major Hockey Association and the Soo Pee Wee Hockey League.
I have heard it from business people who sponsor teams.
I have heard it from former executive board members from both associations.
I have heard it from coaches, both present and former.
Suffice to say that the number of people who I have heard it from qualifies as the aforementioned widespread notion of major issues within the local minor hockey system.
The issues range from how coaches are picked, how players are selected for certain teams, the refusal of executive members to listen to the concerns of parents and a total lack of financial transparency.
Sault Major draws the most complaints — at least in my experience — with regards to player fees that run in the neighbourhood of $7,000 per year at some levels and a subsequent lack of financial accountability.
The way I see, the financial books should be a matter of record to those who are paying for the kids to play — the parents. Not only should parents know in exact detail where their money is going and for what but they should have the right to see any and all bank statements.
To me, a refusal by any such organization to provide full financial accountability would lead me to suspect some level of misappropriation.
I have tried more than once to discuss issues with executive members from both Sault Major and Soo Pee Wee. Of numerous e-mails sent and messages left, the responses have been few and far between.
In fact, one member of Sault Major sent me an e-mail accusing me of “trying to destroy rep hockey” in Sault Ste. Marie based on some of the questions I was asking.
Really. Trying to destroy rep hockey by asking questions that parents are not getting the answers to?
I am not sure if there is a way to go about fixing what seems to be ailing the minor hockey system in Sault Ste. Marie.
I do know that there are many well-intentioned coaches and managers who are truly “in it for the kids.” The flip side though is that there are some executive members — and a few coaches — who are in it only for themselves and/or their kids.
But back to what I am told are major issues — high player fees coupled with the refusal to provide full financial disclosure.
The refusal to disclose financial statements and records is the one that really gets me.