I owe my life and livelihood to people who gave their time and expertise in my early years to help me become the best that I could be and, ultimately, one of the few who make their living playing, coaching, and now, as an executive of our great game.

My earliest memories are of my Dad and Mom, fully engaged in the lives of all four of their children. My folks have seen more hockey games than most NHL scouts, but more importantly, they seldom sat and watched… they served players by chipping in and helping out.

My Dad coached and managed most of the teams that my two brothers and I played for and he even coached my sister in girls’ hockey way before girls’ hockey was “in.” My mother had an athletic background so she understood the need for sleep and nutrition and a positive environment. My folks were, and still are, the best example of sports volunteers that I can think of.

From this context, you can see why I wanted to begin this article about minor hockey executives and volunteers with a giant “THANK-YOU!”

I came to understand the importance of common values as a Bantam AAA coach. During one of my early parent meetings I asked our players, parents, and coaches to come up with the values that we wanted to live by during the upcoming season. We had a great conversation around the way we wanted to treat our opponents as well as our teammates.

Then the discussion turned to asking each other how we would treat the referees. We decided that we (including parents) would not yell at refs, but would instead always treat them with respect. Deciding this together at the beginning of the season made all the difference. All parts of our team could then hold each other accountable to the standard that we had agreed on.

I recommend the same process for minor hockey associations. Common values which each family in the association has a hand in developing and agrees on, are a wonderful vehicle to help minor hockey executives make good decisions, for the right reasons. These developed, shared values give minor hockey executives and volunteers both reason and opportunity to get on the same page and make informed, valued decisions.

Finally, speaking of executives making decisions (because that is a big part of the job), I really like Dr. Ben Carson’s strategy and I recommend that minor hockey executives adopt it in some form. In his book, Take the Risk, Dr. Carson, a professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University who has faced many complex life or death decisions, outlines the four simple questions, which have helped him to make better decisions.

The questions:

  1. What is the best that could happen if I do this?
  2. What is the worst that could happen if I do this?
  3. What is the best that could happen if I don’t do this?
  4. What is the worst that could happen if I don’t do this?

Intelligent, well thought-out decisions, informed by the common values decided upon by the stakeholders of the association have a higher chance of being right, for the right reason… the kids!

About The Author

Ryan Walter played more than 1000 games over 15 NHL seasons. Drafted second overall by the Washington Capitals (where he became the NHL’s youngest captain), Ryan won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens before finishing his playing career as a Vancouver Canuck...CONTINUE.

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