SOUTH MUSKOKA - The newly amalgamated South Muskoka Minor Hockey Association (SMMHA) has selected its new board of directors.
Steve Low, a former Ontario Minor Hockey Association representative for the Bracebridge Minor Hockey Association, has been selected to be president of the new South Muskoka Minor Hockey Association. Low will serve alongside a brand new board of directors from both the Bracebridge and Gravenhurst minor hockey clubs.
File photo by Louis Tam
Members of the inaugural board were chosen at a membership meeting on Tuesday, April 3, about one month before the association’s incorporation becomes official. The SMMHA is being formed through the merger of the Bracebridge Minor Hockey Association (BMHA) and Gravenhurst Minor Hockey Association (GMHA). In January both clubs voted overwhelmingly in favour of a merger to combat declining enrolment.
Steve Low, the former Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) representative for the BMHA, was chosen as president, while former BMHA president Barry Hammond was chosen to serve as vice-president. Former BMHA secretary Barb Cousineau will assume the same role for the SMMHA, and former BMHA trainer Emily Stephen will serve as treasurer.
Members also selected former GMHA local and house league representative Natasha Zugehoer as registrar, while former GMHL OMHA representative Tracy Barnes will resume the same role with the SMMHA. Jody Rowland, who previously served as GMHL president, has filled the player development position, and GMHL public relations director Janis Gollan was chosen to the booth position.
Wayne Ferguson, who was the GMHL equipment manager, is now a tournament director for the SMMHA. GMHL parent representative Tara Whipp will serve in public relations, and GMHL special event coordinator Christine Parsons is now in charge of sponsorship.
Other former BMHA members include former booth coordinator Deb Marling, who is the new association’s fundraising director, and coach Chris Greenfield, who is now the SMMHA equipment manager. BMHA ice scheduler Angela Coutts will fill the same position in the new association, and BMHA tournament director Kevin Babcock has been selected to be the SMMHA house league convener.
With the new executive board in place, the new treasurer said one of the next steps for the association is to create a uniform set of protocols and procedures that both Gravenhurst and Bracebridge members can agree on.
“Gravenhurst and Bracebridge certainly have some similarities, but we’ve been operating under separate manuals, we’ve been operating with different venues,” Stephen said. “Essentially when forming this new board, we have to start from scratch and put a complete manual of operations together, a new budget, everything. We’re moving forward with a lot of work to try to put this together.”
Other differences between the two clubs include the fact that the Gravenhurst club has had no booth on their board, and that coaching hours aren’t counted in volunteer time allocation in Bracebridge.
Though redrafting the structure of minor hockey in South Muskoka will be a challenge, Stephen said the association is hoping these efforts will translate into better quality hockey for players.
“I’m excited on many levels. Most people, when they join executives, things are in place, manuals of operations have been around for 50 years, and you just move forward,” she said. “It’s exciting to be part of coming together and it’s exciting to be part of growing.”