Seeking representation

Last week, we covered the disqualification of the UTM tri-campus men’s hockey following a registration technicality, an unfortunate end to a promising season (“Technical elimination”, March 18).

As the players come to terms with their forfeit, they are looking to implement the UTM Hockey Players Association next year in order to file appeals for rule changes and suspensions incurred over the course of the season. Currently, UTSC is the only campus that has such an organization: the Scarborough Campus Hockey Players Association. The SCHPA engages both fans and players on the men’s and women’s teams and hosts events, such as their recent “DJ Skating Night” at the Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto.

Kyle Kuczynski, a centre on the UTM tri-campus team, will spearhead this campaign. He wants to incorporate a structure similar to UTSC’s, inviting fans to share their opinions with players about the administrative aspects of the league.

“The main idea will be to attend these meetings and show the league commissioners that we should have some collective bargaining rights,” said Kuczynski, a third-year history and political science major.

Though the UTM team’s players and management are still working out the mechanics of the association, they are hopeful that it will be the solution to their problems.

“I think better representation and better communication would help,” said Rory Bourgeois, a second-year political science major and left winger for the tri-campus men’s team. “The incident [with player Zach Zubac] was a misunderstanding caused by a lack of communication.”

The incident is currently being assessed by members of UTM’s physical education department, located in the RAWC. Personnel are stating that the real issue may be educating not players but coaches about rule changes.

“It is ultimately the coaches’ responsibility to make sure that the game sheet is filled in correctly,” said Jack Krist, the department’s program coordinator.

Krist said this is not the first time a technical mishap has cost a team their trip to the championships.

“We have lost in the 2011 women’s tri-campus indoor soccer semifinal by forfeit—after having won the game—for not having put a player on the game sheet for a regular season game. This made her ineligible for the playoffs by one game,” he said. “Very similar to what happened in this hockey case.”

Though Krist said he does not see the value of implementing a players association, saying it would do little besides involving more of the student body, he stressed the importance of coaches educating their teams about all the rules before the season begins.

“Having our coaches explain the rules […] to all the new players would be very helpful […],” said Krist. “The coaches we have are often alumni that have played in the leagues, so they are all aware of the rules and regulations for each of their sports. They also know that the UTM athletic staff are supporting their teams, and if they have any questions or concerns they need to contact us right away.”

UTSC is the only U of T campus that has successfully established a players association, and the SCHPA has grown exponentially over the years and been named the most engaging program on the Scarborough campus. “We have significantly increased hockey awareness on campus, and currently our fanbase is huge because of it,” says UTSC’s Joe Goode, a fourth-year geography major and president of the association.

Though SCHPA is not responsible for fighting suspensions and rule changes, Goode offers his advice to the UTM hockey program about how to go about achieving change in these domains. “Network as much as possible with league personnel,” he says. “Having strong leadership skills when managing an association is key in developing leaders in the hockey community. And, overall, knowledge gained from real-world experience will be more valuable than anything else.”

Meanwhile, UTM students are trying to find their own solutions.

“I don’t think it’s fair that a single governing body at St. George should be in charge of authorizing rules for the entire league if it is in fact a tri-campus league,” commented Christopher Autuchiewicz, a second-year political science major. “There should be members elected from each campus who have the power to determine whether or not something is fair.”

As another school year comes to a close, the future of UTM’s athletics program is hopeful; they are striving to reach out to the student body regarding the importance of physical activity, playing on UTM sports teams, and supporting the teams as fans.

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