Toronto girls hockey league denies ‘no-touching’ policy

Feb 5, 2015 | Sports

Leaside Wildcats and Durham Lightning

Leaside Wildcats playing against Durham Lightning (John McArthur/Flickr)

By Tiara Samosir

After a message banning coaches from having any physical contact with players went viral earlier this week, Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association (TLGHA) clarified that the association does not have a ‘no touching’ policy on Wednesday.

“The section of the email about physical contact with players did not draw a clear enough distinction between hard and fast rules and guidelines,” said TLGHA president Jennifer Smith in a press release.

Earlier this week, the TLGHA sent out an email to coaches regarding a ban from physical contact between players and coaches on the bench, according to the National Post. Contact including a touch on the shoulder or a tap on the helmet are prohibited, said the email.

“On bench behaviour – under no circumstances should there be contact with the players, in any way,” TLGHA executive vice-president John Reynolds wrote in the email.

The email was in response to a complaint about a volunteer parent slapping a bum and squeezing the shoulder of a female player.

“We naturally understand that contact is part of the game,” Smith said in the release. “The idea is not to prevent reasonable celebrations and acts of positive encouragement, but to ensure these acts are appropriate and comfortable for everyone involved. We encourage coaches to consider that not all players welcome such contact equally.”

She emphasized that the email to coaches was intended as a guideline only, not a hard and fast rule.

“It is normal for volunteers to touch players in certain circumstances,” said Smith, including helping players with skates, assisting young players and helping an injured player off the ice.

But before the clarification was made, the message had already spread through social media creating intense responses from parents and hockey enthusiasts alike.

“I think it’s over the top,” said David Storey, Scarborough Sharks hockey coach.

“There is nothing wrong with giving someone a pat on the helmet or a pat on the shoulder or something like that. I mean there’s appropriate contact and inappropriate contact. I think it’s pretty self explanatory,” he said.

Storey said the ‘no-touch’ policy wouldn’t have a huge effect on the relationship between the coaches and their player.

“I just think it’s overkill, that’s all,” he said.

But Student Life manager, and contact for the Georgian College women’s hockey team, Mike Zecchino isn’t at all concerned.

If a player is injured, there’d still be trainers that would be able to help them, he said. “So there’s no need to touch.”