After serving as secretary on the Jasper Minor Sports board for 18 years, Tamar Couture is stepping down.
Her youngest son, Nash, is now playing elite hockey in Whitecourt and, Couture said, "Without a connection to hockey, I'm not connected to the position - I'm not around all the time.
"As well, after 18 years, perhaps it's time for some new ideas, new enthusiasm, to infuse the board and the association.”
Couture got involved with the board after attending an AGM.
"The only other people were the board members and myself, and one other person," she remembered. "The secretary at the time was stepping down and I decided that if I wanted to have my child participate, then I better step up."
While she was officially secretary, she was always the “general go-to person”.
Couture oversaw "the top end of things” to make sure the board always had directors and was at every meeting to record the minutes. She also organized referee clinics for hockey referees, Jasper Minor Sports’ Christmas power skating camps, and team photos.
Couture has had a variety of experiences since she started the day of the AGM.
"I would say the year that we hosted the Bantam C Provincials 2009 in Jasper was one of the highlights,” she said.
That year, Jasper Minor Sports hosted nine teams from all over Alberta, working with Lee Chorley and Dave Ewanchook to make it all happen.
Couture said another highlight was working an Oilers 50/50 in 2011 - a huge fundraiser for Jasper Minor Sports that allowed them to purchase new uniforms for all the teams.
About volunteering, Couture noted for an organization to be able to offer programs and services is quite often dependent on volunteers.
Without volunteer coaches, managers and board members there would be fewer options for the youth of Jasper to participate in.
"I learned about new sports and their operations and got to work with so many different people in our community,” she said. “It started as a way to be engaged in the sports of my children but grew to a chance to participate in our community.
“The kids and parents that I got to know, the fun of participating in a large group was invaluable learning.”
Couture is keeping busy training her replacement, Shannon Hofuis, who was a member of the board who offered to take over the role.
"The board asked me to stay another year," she said, but, "I would like to gracefully bow out (before then)".
Jim Koss, director of Jasper Minor Sports, and his wife, Becky, paid tribute to Couture’s years of dedication to the group.
They said in an email, “Jasper Minor Sports relies on community volunteers to organize, guide and connect the pieces for youth soccer, baseball and hockey teams. One valuable volunteer and joining force for all of Jasper Minor Sports’ teams is Tamar Couture.”The Kosses said Couture has been a key contributor to building and strengthening Jasper Minor Sports for the last 18 years.
“Her passion for supporting youth athletes and their families is apparent in the countless hours she has spent balancing books, making phone calls and mentoring other community volunteers,” they said.
“The strong Minor Sports foundation that we all now enjoy can be attributed to Tamar’s passion for volunteerism and community.
“Her presence at the rink will be missed now that her three boys, Jack, Cooper, and Nash, have moved along in their hockey careers.
“Her impact, however, will always be felt.”
Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh