The Convening Process
Coordinators for the Convening Process (starting September 6th 2016)
At the beginning of each season, teams are formed. This can be a very complicated and complex process, and so we have pulled together this list of frequently asked questions to try and explain the process a little.
What is the convening process all about?
In ringuette, each association (we are BKRA) is responsible to form their teams independently. Working within their region (we are in Lac St Louis, LSL) the associations process registrations and assign girls to teams within their age groups.
Each level tries to have an A, B, and C division, with some of the older divisions having an AA division (Junior and Cadette). It is not mandatory to have a team in each division. Neither is it mandatory to form higher level teams. Each association is responsible to assess the abilities of the players in each division and determine what is best for the players in terms of development and enjoyment.
Why does the process seem to take so long?
The convening process doesn't actually begin until the first week of September. As an association, BKRA has decided to run warm-up sessions for the first weeks before Labour Day, to allow girls time to adjust to the ice, their equipment, etc., and for BKRA to process registrations. Until registration is complete, it is not possible to determine team numbers and sizes, so we use the first few weeks of the season for training only.
The convening process runs for about 2-3 weeks. As indicated above, the first step is to determine number of teams at each level, while the second step is to determine team rosters. The overall process is tricky because it's like a machine with many moving parts. Change something in Novice and it could have an effect that rumbles all the way up to Benjamin.
What is the role of the Convenor?
Each level (e.g. Atom) has a set convenors who are responsible to manage all tasks associated with organizing each on ice session, throughout the convening process. We have convenors for Pre-Novice, Novice, Atome, Benjamine, Junior, Cadette, Inter and Juvenile levels.
Throughout the convening process, convenors communicate with the other convenors to see how things are moving across the entire association ensuring the process runs as smoothly as possible.
How can a convenor run a practice AND evaluate at the same time?
They can't and they don't.
Convenors don't evaluate at their own levels. Convenors designate evaluators, guide them through the process, provide them with forms, find pinnies and rings, look for bic pens, etc., and tabulate results. Convenors are usually good at excel formatting, color coding, email sending, and ring carrying. It's very much an organizing and communication role.
If convenors don't evaluate, who does?
Most of the time, high level players or ex-players, experienced coaches evaluate. We look for evaluators that typically don't have children in the division. Evaluators have playing and/or coaching experience, and usually evaluating experience too.
What do evaluators look for?
Evaluators first look at a player's ability to play at the level for which they are trying out (e.g. can the player be competitive at that level?). Then evaluators rank within the group, and determine which out of the group should form the team. Evaluators also look across the entire level to help determine which teams we should have. Sometimes we are unable to field a team at the A level, for example, because there is no qualified goalie.
Are players who have parents that are coaches exempted from the process?
No. Every player is evaluated for a level. Coaching decisions are only made after teams are formed. That is, we don't move players (either up or down) just to get a coach in place, unless we are moving from one C level to a C level older. For example, we have in the past moved 2nd year Atome C players up to Benjamin C, to provide a challenge and give an opportunity to someone who wanted to be head coach (in this instance the team didn't have one).
What if there is only a small group of girls who can play at (for example) the A level? What do you do?
In some cases, associations will form merged teams. This doesn't happen all of the time, however it is a good option to ensure that teams can remain competitive and that players can play at the appropriate level. Also, if an association is unable to field an A team but has some players who should be playing A, they may contact another association to see if the players can be moved over for the season.
So are teams formed such that they can win in their division?
No. Being competitive doesn't necessarily mean winning all the time. BKRA's priority is to ensure that the individual player is competing at the appropriate level so that she can learn and enjoy herself. Placing a girl on a team that is above her abilities can be problematic.
What if I don't agree with the evaluators?
The evaluation process is not an easy process for anyone. Evaluators are sensitive to the fact that their decisions affect the girls. Evaluators are always trying to balance the overall objectives of the association with the individual player, and to be as fair as possible. If you have concerns, it's best to go directly to the convenor, they are your main point of contact.
Are tryouts open at all levels?
Essentially, yes. We run open tryouts for the A level. The remaining group is considered "B potential". We then sort this group into B and C, to finalize the B level.
Isn't it worse for my daughter if I send her to a tryout and then she gets cut?
Try-out management (for lack of a better term) is a tricky skill that sometimes takes practice. Encouraging a player to reach her potential is great but it needs to be balanced with what you think is possible. If you send your daughter to a tryout, just remind her of why she plays the sport and that eventually she will be assigned to a team where she can contribute, develop and have fun.
Once the teams are formed, then what?
Once we form the teams, the pre-season begins. This is a period run by the regions where associations can compare their teams against other associations. Although some exhibitions take place during the convening process, it's not until pre-season that it becomes very clear if teams will manage where they have been assigned. Usually there are few changes during this period, but it is possible that, for example, an association creates an A team that simply cannot compete, and therefore might have to shuffle teams around. For example, in 2014 we started pre-season with Novice A,B,C,C and moved to Novice A,B,B,C after pre-season results. Once the pre-season is over, we move into the regular season (October) and the game schedule is set up until end of February. Playoffs are usually in March.
Who coaches, who manages?
Parent volunteers run BKRA, from the President and Treasurer, to the coaches and managers. There are no paid positions in BKRA. This is a good thing. It means that everyone wants to be here. We do our best to train coaches and managers throughout the season, to help the season run smoothly. We have a lot of past ringuette players coaching and managing, and a lot of Dads who are confident enough to walk into a sports store and buy themselves a ringuette stick.
How are Coaches/Managers chosen?
All parents who are interested in coaching will be asked to be involved on ice during the convening sessions allowing conveners to make recommendations for coaching positions to the Director of Coaching. Once the teams are formed, head coaches will be assigned by the Director of Coaching working closely with the VP and President. If more than one person wants to be head coach, selection is made based on experience (playing and coaching). Every year we try to give this process more structure and it's quite possible in the near future that there will be application forms to complete for all coaching positions. The head coaches will then select assistant coaches and have them approved by the Director of Coaching. Coaching certification is provided as required.
Managers also need to be assigned to each team and are usually selected by the coaching staff. This position can be performed by a group of people, if the team desires. Managers should not be the spouse of the head coach.
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