Apparently, there are minor hockey coaches out there who still don’t get it. Apparently, there are minor hockey coaches out there who are not in tune with the Canadian Mental Health Association and its Talk Today program.
For those who may need a refresher, Talk Today is one of the most comprehensive mental health education programs for amateur sports in Canada.
In co-operation with the likes of Hockey Canada and affiliates such as the Canadian Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association et al, Talk Today is aimed at helping thousands of teenage players across Canada — as well as the individuals that support them — to identify and act upon any mental health-related issues.
To be sure, much of what went on in dressing rooms and behind benches in years gone by is no longer acceptable and is no longer tolerable.
In short, gone are the days of it being acceptable for coaches to berate, demean, ridicule or speak to amateur players in a manner that could affect the mental health and well being of a youngster.
While most coaches seem to be getting the message and most leagues and associations seem to be enforcing rules and regulations regarding the mental health and well being of all players, there are — sadly and unfortunately — some who still don’t get it.
For now, I am not going to name names.
But it has been brought to my attention by more than one Sault Ste. Marie parent that a certain head coach of a teenage minor hockey team went on a recent post-game rant in the dressing room in which he called his players uncomplimentary names, questioned their ability to play the game and in general used what might be described as abusive language.
In other words, the coach in question crossed the line and his assistant coaches were there to hear what this so-called leader of young men had to say, in derogatory tones, to his team of young teenage players.
I will say that the matter has been brought to the attention of the Sault Major Hockey Association and it can only be hoped that it is dealt with in an appropriate and just manner.
Mental health is no longer a subject that is taboo around — in this case — a youth hockey rink. When parents leave their young player to the supervision of a coach, they have a right to expect that their youngster will not be subject to verbal abuse that could cause a mental health issue.
Talk Today is designed to have a positive impact on the players, as well as coaches, parents and members of the community. To that extent, participating CMHA branches, including the one in Sault Ste. Marie, a few years back established what are called mental health coaches.
Ergo, any parent of a player who feels their child is being mentally abused or affected by their coach can contact the local branch of the CMHA.
This is 2017. These are no longer the dark ages of hockey.
What is wrong is no longer permitted to be right.
Enough is enough.