While I have had a chance to meet with a few members during the last three months at the coaching banquet, Jim’s farewell and the AGM, I am looking forward to the next month where I will get to say hello to many more. It has been a bit of a whirlwind with a few projects happening all at once to get things ready for the coming season but I am extremely excited to be part of Vancouver Thunderbirds Hockey!

Let me start by saying that I am very encouraged by the strength and skill set that our Board possesses. We have a cross section of backgrounds from a variety of industries that together make a solid leadership group. There is a deep passion for creating a player first mentality in decision making and the new vision, mission and values that was shared at the AGM will lead the association into a new chapter.

A few areas I want to draw attention to as we start down this path to the season:

  • The summer camp program has undergone a few minor changes for this season with the intention of a full review and a revitalized program for next summer. We have brought in a few outstanding skills instructors to lead most of the ice times while still offering the camps at a significantly reduced rate from private offerings. We hope that we will see most of our players on the ice in preparation for the season.
  • There will be a focused approach to delivery of the recreational program as Mike Todd will be taking on a new role this year as the Director of Player and Coach Development – Recreational. His sole focus will be working with the Director and Associate Directors of Recreational (Michael Goehring and Baukje Edamura) to elevate the experience of our recreational players. This will start with developing a new standardized approach to team balancing and will carry through to the execution of the skills program.
  • Skills sessions for our initiation division and rep division will be led by two of the most highly respected skills organizations in the Lower Mainland with an international reach. Leslie Global Sports (LGS) with Nate Leslie and Ben MacKay as the on-ice leads will be working directly with our initiation division with on-ice leadership during the skills sessions along with additional coaching support. Vancouver Hockey School’s Derek Popke will be leading an on-ice skills program for our rep teams. We are very excited to work with both of these groups for this season and will be developing a long term plan for the provision of the skill development for our players.
  • Rep tryouts are just around the corner (starting August 26th). Registration closes at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, August 15th for any player wishing to be part of the process this year. I want to encourage all players (and their parents) to review the revised process we will be following as it is significantly different than previous years as we begin to align closer with how BC Hockey and Hockey Canada recommend tryout processes be operated. As this is a new process, we expect there to be a number of questions, and we will be covering the process in detail with the participants of this year’s rep prep summer camps – if you haven’t signed up yet, I definitely encourage you to do so as a number of the drills and discussions will be drawn directly from the tryout process.
  • TeamSnap integration has started with this brand new website! Not only will the website grow into the place where you will find all the Thunderbirds information and celebrations of our current players and alumni, it will be directly tied into the lovely TeamSnap mobile app that we have all come to love.

I hope you will enjoy the new website! If you have pictures, videos or a great story that should be shared about any of our members (whether it is hockey related or not), please don’t hesitate to contact us and tell us all about it! We want to be an association that celebrates our successes and supports our T-Bird family members, and we need to join together to make the hockey experience amazing.

On a personal note, I owe so much to the sport of hockey as I have had the opportunity to be part of some outstanding adventures and I am looking forward to bringing the sum off all my experiences to the association. I wake up every day excited to be able to talk hockey and work with passionate people with the sole focus of doing the best we possibly can to create an environment that will develop athletes on the ice and solid members of the community off the ice. It is an exciting time for Vancouver Thunderbirds Hockey and I hope that everyone finds a way to help their team and/or the association in general to be part of the new path to excellence we are starting. I will be around the rink throughout the summer camps and tryouts and I will be a regular spectator throughout the season so be sure to say hello – after all I hate sitting alone!

See you at the rink!