OMHA recognizes volunteers who stepped up during pandemic

·2 min read

To say this has been challenging year for hockey players, coaches, and league executives may be an understatement.

With league play cancelled, travel for-bidden, and disruptions in ice time and availability, it has been a diffi cult season all around.

For the past week, the Ontario Minor Hockey Association has been celebrating the people who have been on the front lines of hockey in the Province trying to keep the game going in some fashion during this current pandemic.

With strict rules and regulations in place to keep everyone safe, it has been a season of uncertainty.

The OMHA dedicated its third annual “Thank a Volunteer” week (February 22 – 28) to the coaches, parents, offi cials, and administrators who went above and beyond the call of duty this year to keep as many people as possible involved in the game in whatever way they could.

The volunteers, who are so important to the sport, had their stories highlighted in a campaign running all week on the OMHA’s social media channels

.“What’s incredible to me is that volunteers all over the province have found new and creative ways to offer some form of hockey in a safe way in the middle of the global pandemic,” said Ian Taylor, Executive Director of the OMHA. “It speaks to the love they have for our game and the benefi ts it provides our children.”

Volunteers have been even more im-portant this year due to the challenging situation faced by not only hockey but all organized sports.“

"Hockey was a tool for these kids,” said Adam Syring, coach of the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs. “We kept the game going as long as we could because it was an outlet for their mental health, to be able to get out, be active, and get their minds off of COVID, the pandemic, and everything we were hearing in the news. When the kids did get the chance to be with their teammates, you could see hockey made a world of difference.”

As part of Thank a Volunteer Week, the OMAH announced two award winners.

Jane Kelko, from Essex, Ontario, is the winner of the Patricia Hartley Adminis-trator’s Award in recognition of her de-cades of exemplary service in the fi eld of hockey administration.

Kelly Hastings, of Collingwood, is the winner of the Development Award.

This award honours his years of outstanding contribution to hockey development, helping run minor hockey initiation pro-grams for thousands of children in the area.

Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times