While it was not exactly the way we had wanted to start with teams in different locations, it was indeed a great pleasure to finally get our season underway. We apologize for not being able to make better arrangements.
Feiyang / Ice Update
Our determination to bring all players in Shanghai together to play in one league, with one purpose, is not a well-shared vision. While others say they support this vision and even repeat these very words, their actions are in dramatic conflict with our ideals.
Consequently, we have been required to secure ice time elsewhere which will allow all of our teams to play without major interruptions. The choices we have concluded are Feiyang, Songjiang, Champions and Xijiao Bailian. Unfortunately, the Songjiang facility is under renovation and will not be available until October.
As renters, we are once again at the mercy of the facility when it comes to what times we are able to secure - but we have secured the amount of ice time we need and shortly will be communicating the schedule details for the balance of the Fall season. In terms of Songjiang, starting in October we will have access to as much 4 hrs of ice from 07:00-11:00 each weekend morning. Along with planned ice time at Feiyang, Champions and Xijiao Bailian, the Songjiang ice time will be part of our overall STMHA facility rotation plan. It is planned that our oldest players will primarily utilize Songjiang, but all age groups will have access. In support of our plan to leverage the ice available at Songjiang, the board is currently investigating arranging shuttle buses in order to assist our members with transportation.
We know our facility situation is not ideal and several people have expressed concern about not having all the teams at the same location as well as the early start times. The Board will continue to work with all the facilities in an attempt to finalize ice times that are more sociable, but our ongoing priority will be securing the ice time required to execute our proven STMHA development programs and provide the full Thunderbirds experience.
Looking ahead to the season we are seeing strong attendance at Group 1 and Group 2 with numbers down slightly in Group 3, leaving us at a membership level similar to last year. We will once again have a strong, active House League with expanded participation of the older players throughout the league as assistant coaches and referees. Coach and referee training will take place soon.
Our Select Teams at U15 and U12 will be the strongest in several years. The U10 age group is very close to being able to field a team but with the reduced numbers it’s an ongoing challenge. Our oldest age group U17 also has enough players that we are working on participating with similar aged groups in Hong Kong, Beijing and possibly Singapore to play 3 on 3 format games as part of a Junior Hockey Exchange Program.
We are looking forward to an active tournament season starting off in Seoul, Korea on 25-27 October. Other opportunities this season are Beijing in November, Harbin during their winter festival, Singapore in March, Japan and Hong Kong in the spring.
Select Program of Excellence
We know that for some the Select program is very different from their previous clubs where membership was low and all players played on the select team. We want to spend some time explaining select team operations in more detail for those new to Thunderbird Select Hockey. With the membership levels we enjoy, we are able to choose players who have demonstrated the best combination of skills, knowledge and attitudes both on and off the ice to be part of our Program of Excellence or Select Team Program.
Select team members not only play for their House League team but also are enrolled in a more demanding level of training and play on a team where the focus is more competitive. The level of commitment for Select Hockey is more than twice that of HL. Select players are expected to put hockey first before other sports they play. Attendance at select team activities is mandatory for all team members. Exceptions to this rule are rare and are decided by the Head Coach on an individual basis.
Should your player not make a select team it is important to understand that the decision is based on what is best for your player’s development. Placing a player on a select team and in a more demanding training program before they are physically and mentally ready is counterproductive and may cause the player harm.
It is also important that you and your player understand why he/ she did not get chosen for the select team. If you have questions about the results of the selection or the process of selection please ask the coaches involved.
New Board of Directors
In the near future you, the members, will need to complete the job that was started last spring at the AGM. In giving the Board a mandate to negotiate with Feiyang you installed a temporary Board of Directors which included the remaining members of the previous board. Since we have completed negotiation with Feiyang and are now moving onto business as usual, we need to go through the process of voting in a new Board for this season.
Establishing a new Board requires nominations and a vote at a general meeting. To this end we are announcing nominations for all Board positions to be open for nominations as per the Policy & Procedure Manual. A general meeting will be called by the Board sometime after the October national holiday.
In closing we would like to thank you for your patience and understanding in this most trying time for our Board. We feel that we have stayed the course and did our best to sign a partnership agreement that would provide the best hockey environment for our members. We could not find that at Feiyang.