Sackville minor hockey executive dedicated to ensuring local club runs smoothly

Published on August 10, 2017

Sackville Minor Hockey Club vice president Matt Estabrooks, shown above on the right during the organization’s annual awards ceremony earlier this year, has 15 years of experience with the executive, just one of many who dedicate massive amounts of time to ensure players have a positive experience, learn teamwork and make long-lasting friendships.


SACKVILLE, N.B. – No doubt many people fail to realize how demanding the operation of such a huge program as the Sackville Minor Hockey Club is.

Well, folks, from May of one year through until April of the next the 13-member board and especially the five members of the executive meet as many as five times a month.

There is a vast array of duties that must be completed and solutions found for problems that may arise and these may require many hours of discussion, debate and answers.

In May it is necessary to confirm tournament dates for the coming season while delegates are expected to attend District 6 and Hockey New Brunswick meetings. Then in June they must settle the coaching situation for the year, establish budgets, arrange with other user groups for ice time, attend HNB annual general meeting and hold a board meeting.

The coaches’ selection committee finalizes its work in that regard and a monthly board meeting is scheduled to settle any disputes that may arise. August is another hectic time with registration being set up, final coach selection and finalizing registration.

And it goes on and on, an indication that acceptance of an office is more than just a part time commitment. Over the years a good many volunteers have played major roles in the growth of the program – from the Sackville Minor Hockey Association to The Sackville Hockey Club.  Long time presidents like Jack Drover, Malcolm Fisher, David Wheaton and Kirby Cadman, among others have made it work and the new man on the block, Ken Hicks, is totally committed to ensuring the program grows, continues to flourish and that young boys and girls grow into successful men and women with an understanding of team play.

Of course the period from September through to the end of the regular season demands endless energy from the leaders with minor hockey week, development programs, tournaments, clinics, registration of players and teams with Hockey New Brunswick, jamborees, award selections, the closing banquet and awards presentations and the annual meeting.

This column is definitely not designed to discourage new people from stepping forward, rather to indicate how much time these interested individuals devote to our boys and girls and their education and enjoyment. They could always use and definitely appreciate any assistance that might be offered.

So here is the makeup of the board for the coming year: Ken Hicks president, Matt Litvak past president, Matt Estabrooks vice president, Kerry Simpson treasurer, Tanya Trenholm, secretary. The remainder includes David Wheaton, tournament director, and Becky Goodwin, novice coordinator. Aimee Dixon is IP coordinator, Amanda Barlow is fundraising coordinator, Jeff Dixon is coordinator C, Tim Coombs is coordinator A, Pierre Arsenault is technical director and Shane O’Neal is referee in-chief.

While Hicks is a rookie on the board he has plenty of assistance with vice president Matt Estabrooks having 15 years of experience. So it appears as though this organization is on solid footing and for the past couple of seasons has been operating with balanced budgets.

Hicks says registration was slightly over 200 last season and the goal is to hit 230 this time around.  However, both men admit it may be difficult with so many options – like basketball – available to the young boys and girls.

And the Sackville organizations was one of the leading opponents to Hockey New Brunswick’s proposal to ban girls from playing on boys’ teams. Estabrooks says at least 25 percent of the kids playing here are girls and contribute to nearly level of the program.

An emphasis is being placed on kids in the 4 -6 year range this season – right across the province – in what is termed he Initiation Division. This leads into the novice group (7-8 years), atom (9-10), peewee (ll-12), bantam (13-14) and midget (15-18).

Hicks says a policy of “no player left behind” is in place so all may play.

All officials and coaches must meet certain standards – all mush pass a police background check and coaches must have obtained a Level 1 certification.

Meanwhile, a total of up to $4,00 from the Carl Ward Fund has been budgeted to upgrade the system. Ward donated $35,000 to the program a few years ago and the fund is administered by David Bruce. It provides funds to help players attend clinics and also is used to upgrade coaches and referees.

And so things appear set. Registration is underway, the ice palace will be available on Sept. 15 and before the end of March hundreds of contests will have unwound and perhaps a future Sidney Crosby will emerge. But the leaders are simply looking to ensure the boys and girls have a wonderful experience, learn teamwork and make long-lasting friendships.