A special thanks to those who attended the 2019 AGM. The London Deviletttes are pleased to present the 2019-20 London Devilettes Board
President’s Report – Mauro Facchin
It is with pride that I look back over our past season and the many challenges and accomplishments that we as an association have achieved. My thanks to the many volunteers who made it happen and to the parents and players who came together for a successful season.
This past year was a very challenging one. I am truly appreciative for those on the board who stepped up to fill unexpected voids. Running a completely volunteer based board can be challenging none the less. However, a volunteer board operating the largest female association in Southwest Ontario can prove extra daunting. Even with those challenges, our membership continues to maintain and grow its numbers. We continue to see youth female hockey declining across the province, and locally many other associations are looking for current Devilettes players to help fill needed spots because of their declining enrolment. However, we have consistently maintained a strong and vital membership. This is in thanks to the efforts of our Board and our Members.
Last year, we saw a big emphasis on player protection through all of Hockey Canada. The emphasis on protecting our athletes and respecting their rights as individuals is more prevalent in today’s society as social media has proved to be an accelerant to objectionable conduct. I am proud to say that the London Devilettes remain ahead of the curve on this. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the effort of Andrea Chisholm who spearheaded many new policies and procedures to assure our athletes have a safe and harassment free environment to play in. Other associations who haven’t been as proactive are replicating our model.
The success of our house league program continues as we grow. This year we again hosted the day of champions, which continues to be a great event for our house league players. We also saw a number of our house league players participate in the Development Stream Program that now runs from Novice through Bantam. We have seen DS players continue to develop and earn positions on our competitive teams. Robust player development programs in both house league and competitive, and enhanced support to our coaches will ensure that the association’s teams enjoy an increased degree of on-ice success at all levels. We will continue to support those athletes who are seeking to pursue hockey at its highest levels. This year saw more non-parent coach applicants than ever before. This includes a number of female graduates that have returned to coach the Devilettes. This is a great sign for female hockey.
Our partnership with our home ice center, the London Sports Park, also continues to strengthen. We renewed the agreement this past year for another 3-year term. This includes the use of storage for our equipment, and facilities for our Junior team. It is with great pleasure that I look back a mere 5 years ago when we, as an association, had no home and no brand identity. Now, thanks to the efforts of our Board members, along with the tremendous support of our Junior Team Coach Ted Brown, we have made ourselves ‘at home’ at London Sports Park.
The on-ice highlight of the past season is the accomplishment of the Junior team. For the first time ever in PWHL history, the same team won both Provincials and the PWHL championship. The London Junior team was highlighted in many media articles and proved a great inspiration to our 730 plus members. I also would like to recognize that for the first time ever, two former London Devilettes were named to the main Team Canada roster. Katelyn Gosling and Brittany Howard were able to play for Canada, in London, in front of a sell out crowd at Bud Gardens.
This past February, our Annual Devilettes Hockey Tournament was again a resounding success. With another record number of teams participating, this event is known as one of the most attended and well-run tournaments in the province. It is also the primary source of non-profit revenue for the Association. A special thanks to Greg and Kathy Strauss who will again head up our tournament next year.
On the topic of membership cost reduction, our marketing and sponsorship efforts have kept costs down and have increased our brand exposure. A renewal with Source for Sports will continue to give our members an opportunity to purchase spirit wear off the shelf and at the same time increase our brand recognition.
All that I have mentioned above is only a small portion of our success and challenges we as a board faced last season. Our Board has been extremely busy with many items this year and I apologize for anything that has not been recognized here. Hockey, for our Board members is a 365-day a year passionate endeavor.
I would like to close in recognizing two of our board members who will retire after serving their full 6-year volunteer commitment.
Andy Min served on the board in many capacities. Starting by helping to create our operational guidelines, Andy has not only served as the Competitive Director, but has also worked as interim Treasurer twice, when others have stepped down. As many of you know, both of these positions are at times thankless, and under constant scrutiny. We appreciate Andy’s dedication and help in progressing our association.
John Fryer came into the organization and has worn pretty much all the hats that this board offers. His passion with the House League program, including the implementation of house league development and day of champions are two things that separate our house league program from any other. He also has done a fantastic job being a liaison with the OWHA and mediating and encouraging the organization to operate under the guidance of our by-laws. To put it in layman’s terms, John has been the firefighter for the organization. When others tend to want to run from a situation, he is often the one running in to the situation to save the day.
Lastly, I would like to thank our athletes and parents. I am a firm believer that the lessons learned in minor sport define how we mature as adults. The guidance and support provided in this organization is outstanding, and I am sure that we are creating a future generation of leaders.