Operating a successful junior hockey franchise in this day and age is surprisingly complex. The branded moniker of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (“OJHL”), which your Cobourg Cougars are proud participants in, is “League of Choice” and there is lots of choice among the various franchises in the OJHL. In the OJHL of today, you have to be good both on and off the ice to “win”. Good ideas sometimes turn into bad ideas because of poor execution or bad communications or a combination thereof. Sometimes, what looks like a bad idea actually turns into a stroke of genius, with the key to success being predicated on open-mindedness.
What we have learned as an organization over the past 10 years about running a successful “on-ice” junior hockey program is that it all comes down to the quality of your coaching and general management staffs. To borrow but then morph a well-used maxim in the real estate business – running a successful on ice program comes down to “People, People, People”. This is why we largely leave the on-ice strategy and execution and player recruitment, retention, development and ultimate advancement aspects to our professional staffs. To be quite frank, it is this great group of people behind your Cobourg Cougars that allowed the club to become the 2017 RBC Cup Champions.
Today’s blog is not about winning or the strategies that are essential to win but rather about the importance of forging strong and sustainable connections within the community. “Community” in the case of how your Cougars view that term means the Town of Cobourg but expressly includes the entirety of the County of Northumberland and also extends to portions of the Region of Durham and the Counties of Peterborough and Hastings. This is the first of a series of blogs I intend to write over the months ahead about what it takes to build a successful junior hockey organization for today and tomorrow. I cannot say with certainty at this stage how many blogs I will prepare on this topic, but today is part 1 and the topic relates to the importance of community. Subsequent parts will be consecutively numbered.
As many have heard me state before, the Cobourg Cougars enjoy a strong and symbiotic relationship with the community. The organization must continue to foster that relationship in order to help support our community, to stay connected with our fans, to drive ticket sales and to be relevant in the community. While hockey is a game, and a great game at that, it can be so much more when your team focuses in on the very community that supports your club. During the past week alone, your Cougars have been busy in the community by providing the needed manual labour to help build a home for Habitat for Humanity Northumberland in Port Hope under the guidance of team chaplain Tony Posthumus and by helping raise much needed monies for The Children’s Foundation, which serves Hastings, Northumberland and Prince Edward Counties.
In the case of Habitat for Humanity, a number of Cougars players were actively involved this past week-end in helping with the building of a new home. See a picture of your Cougars hard at work below.
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, nonprofit organization working toward a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to call home. Habitat Canada brings communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable home ownership and your Cougars are so honoured to be active participants in this great cause right within our community. If you wish to learn more about or make a financial contribution to support Habitat Canada, please visit its website at www.habitatglobalvillage.ca.
While the club was obviously pleased to continue to celebrate being the 2017 RBC Cup Champions at its home game on Monday, a night that saw the players from that historic Cougars team receive their rings commemorating this amazing achievement, the Cougars on this year’s squad were decked out in purple jerseys and socks in support of The Children’s Foundation, whose programs and services aim to educate and inspire our community to effect change and to bring people and financial resources together to improve the quality of life for children and youth who are at risk in Hastings, Northumberland and Prince Edward Counties. October is child abuse prevention month. Those interested in learning more about and/or making a contribution toward can simply go to: www.thechildrensfoundation.ca. Some pictures from Monday’s game between your Cougars and Oakville’s Blades – which ended in an exciting 2-2 draw and helped to raise more than $1,500 in support ofThe Children’s Foundation – are found below.
Additionally, the Cougars were recently a part of organizing a collection various clothing items on behalf of the Coats for Kids Campaign. Our contributions helped to generate over 629 coats, 51 pairs of boots, and 842 other winter items that were donated locally. We were proud to receive a certificate of appreciation from the organization but are even more proud to know that we are making an impact on improving life within our community.
Set out below is an expanded but non-exhaustive list of the various charities the Cobourg Cougars quietly and without a lot of fanfare in the community.
- Jesse’s Journey
- Canadian Tire Jumpstart
- Northumberland Hills Hospital
- United Way
- Canadian Cancer Society
- Horizons of Friendship
- Jesse’s Journey
- Greenwood Coalition
- Fishability Sports
- Salvation Army
- Northumberland Child Development Centre
- Beginnings Pregnancy Centre
Direct donations from the Club and its executive average approx. $25,000/year with charities themselves raising at least $5,000/year at Cougars’ home games. The next time you hear someone ask what the Cougars do in the community, please step forward and simply say “LOTS!” with pride. We recognize that our communities are best served by organizations, like your Cougars, who are willing and dedicated to working together toward the achievement of common goals. As an organization, we participate in various roles that are dedicated to supporting our community and we will make every effort to continue to do so in the future.
Yours in Hockey,
Marc Mercier, Governor
P.S. GO COUGARS GO!