As we anxiously await the arrival of the 2020-2021 we are continuously working on adjusting our programming and registration process to accommodate the ever changing environment we find ourselves in today. Where we stand today in terms of our ability to get more kids on the ice and operate in a more "normal" capacity is not where we believe we will be in the coming days and weeks.
We have partnered with a group that has been aggressively campaigning with Olympia to re-designate all sports facilities to be considered individually as opposed to being clumped together as a whole. Our ability to operate in terms of numbers differs from that of a basketball gym or a soccer field. We have received positive feedback from the state that we hope in the next few days increases our ability to move forward in a positive and safe way.
With that being said we are still faced with certain regulations that we must abide by as we wait for things to progress. Obviously our goal is to get the kids back on the ice practicing in full capacity and competing in their leagues against other associations however, we must be patient and attentive to this process to ensure that we are doing so in the safest and most productive way while still providing the kids great development and fun.
While we wait for these next steps in the re-open plan, we have focused our attentions on bridging the gap between the start of the season and when we can operate in full capacity.
Standard practice times may be altered to accommodate the smaller groups allowed on the ice at a time. During these practice times there will be a heavy focus on individual skill development and little to no physical contact between players. Practice plans from skill coaches will be used during these sessions. One or more of our skill coaches may be running that particular session as opposed to your team's coach.
As we wait for league competition to open weekend ice that is typically used for those games will be used as additional practice time for the players. SJHA is very fortunate that we have so many teams at each level for both Rec, Select and Tier I that we have the ability to begin in house scrimmages against like aged and skilled players as we progress into those stages.
With the uncertainty of in person schooling for most of the school districts our players attend, we now can offer daytime programming for those kids. We intend on offering various skill sessions and practice opportunities on both sides of the week to try and accommodate as many kids as possible that may not be in school full time.
In working closely with surrounding associations, we are looking at extending the season should there be a need, or we are forced to start later to ensure that each player gets their full hockey season. We are looking at the possibility of removing a couple of our traditional blackout weekends where teams would typically participate in tournaments to be sure and get all league games in.
In summary we feel that for the short term we will operate with smaller groups with a heavy focus on skill development and practice time. From there we would likely progress into adding more competition in those practices as well as in house scrimmages. This would all build up to the opening of the leagues and full competition.
As we plan for this season, we are faced with many obstacles that we are trying our best to predict and overcome. Some of those come in the form of regulations from local, state and federal authorities, while others come in the form of uncertainty from our members as to whether or not they are comfortable allowing their children to return to the rink or sports in general. Regulations and registration numbers will continue to impact, and force change in the programming traditionally offered by SJHA. One way or another, those kids that sign up to play hockey this season will be given a unique, but very rewarding experience.
The final obstacle we face is financial. Though Seattle Junior is in a good spot all things considered, we were forced to refund a large amount of money due to the early shut down of the 19’-20’ season. We were forced to cancel nearly all our traditional Spring and Summer programming that generates revenues to help offset the cost of the following season. You will notice that we raised our season rates $100 for players 12U and up and $50 for players 10U and below. Certain teams were raised a larger amount to line up with comparable teams more accurately within the Association for what they receive in terms of ice time provided to them. Our non-refundable initial deposit is higher than in years past. This largely reflects our loss of Spring and Summer revenues that historically covers much of the cost of starting a season. Should we not have a season at all, that deposit will be refunded less any expenses leading up to the potential cancellation. Those costs would likely only be for the price of the jersey(s) and socks, which the player would receive should they already be ordered.
We thank you for your patience during this trying and frustrating time. It is not easy for anyone, especially our kids, with so much being taken away from them already, to move forward in a positive manner and have something to grasp onto and look forward to and we truly hope to be a big part of putting smiles back on their faces and getting through this together.