COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Governance, officiating, and diversity, equity and inclusion were among the prominent topics at USA Hockey’s Winter Meeting, which took place over four days last week in Orlando and virtually via Zoom.
“It was great to have our volunteer leaders from around the country and our staff back together for what was our first major in-person meeting in two years,” said Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey. “We covered a lot of ground and it was encouraging to see that our participation numbers have recovered more quickly than we had anticipated from pre-pandemic numbers.”
Kelleher noted that as of the Winter Meeting, overall participation numbers were down by approximately four percent from 2019-20 numbers and he was hopeful that gap would continue to close throughout the rest of the 2021-22 season.
The overall governance of USA Hockey was a significant topic of conversation as USA Hockey moves forward in modifying its structure to comply with requirements from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
“Through the work of our governance reform task force, and the input of those across our organization, we’ve made significant progress in moving to a governance structure that meets the requirements of the USOPC and ensures the involvement of the broad constituency that has helped make USA Hockey the world-leading organization it is,” said Mike Trimboli, president of USA Hockey. “This has been an enormous undertaking, and at our Annual Congress in June, our Board will formalize a final way forward.”
A blue-ribbon task force appointed by Trimboli and chaired by Keith Barrett, vice president of USA Hockey and chair of the organization’s Youth Council, was appointed earlier this season and has been meeting weekly to discuss significant issues around officiating, particularly related to the lack of necessary officials overall nationally.
The task force presented an update to Winter Meeting attendees and discussed opportunities to help turn the tide on diminishing numbers.
“We’re at the outset of this effort, but some good work has been done already,” said Trimboli. “I’m encouraged by some of the ideas brought forward. The issues we’re facing relative to officiating are similar to many other youth sports and this will continue to be a focus for us.”
On-going efforts related to diversity, equity and inclusion were prominent among discussions throughout USA Hockey councils, committees and sections. A panel on the importance of race relations was part of a Town Hall session that included Bill Proudman, CEO of White Men as Full Diversity Partners; Stephanie Jackson, USA Hockey’s director of diversity and inclusion; Kelleher; and Donna Guariglia, chair of USA Hockey’s diversity and inclusion committee and treasurer of USA Hockey.
“We’re continuing to take intentional steps to help us all better understand differences and build an overall more welcoming and inclusive environment in our sport,” said Kelleher. “Ultimately, we all want hockey to be the best sports opportunity for families in every community in our country.”
NOTES: Trimboli presented President’s Awards to Bill McCall (Crown Point, Ind.) from the coaching education section; Donna Guariglia (Morristown, N.J.), treasurer of USA Hockey; Madison Brown (Niagara Falls, N.Y.), USA Hockey’s manager of events; and Kelly Mahncke (Colorado Springs, Colo.), assistant executive director of finance for USA Hockey … With the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics coming in February and March, Mike “Doc” Emrick moderated a discussion with U.S. Olympic and Paralympic general managers Katie Million (women), John Vanbiesbrouck (men) and Dan Brennan (Paralympic sled).