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A new face at the head of the table

Oshawa Minor Hockey President Taylor Collins, 26, started his tenure off with a unique situation as COVID-19 put sports on hold. (Photo by Chris Jones)

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

There’s a fresh new face at the head of the table for Oshawa Minor Hockey, as Taylor Collins has taken the reins as president.

Collins, a PhD student at York University, is 26 years old, and has taken on the role after a lifetime around hockey in Whitby. He is also a teaching assistant at York.

“I played [in Whitby] in the rep system at various levels, but mostly at A level or around there,” says Collins. “Basically, four years ago I came over here and was asked to help out in Oshawa, and got my foot in the door then.”

He’s been involved with the board over the last couple of years, and was asked to take on the role of president this spring.

Collins is also a Hockey Canada Level 3 Certified Trainer and has an interest in athletic therapy.

At his age, he admits he wasn’t expecting to get the role of president.

“It’s something I wasn’t looking for and wasn’t expecting at this age,” he says, adding as a younger person he knows his age is an easy critique.

He admits though he is surrounded by others with more experience than himself, and he’s open to learning.

However, after taking on the role of president, Collins was hit with a problem nobody knew how to deal with: COVID-19.

“It’s massively affected us. We have basically been mandated through our governing bodies – the Ontario Hockey Federation, and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association – strictly in what we can and can’t do,” he says.

He notes Oshawa Minor Hockey is primarily a rep system, meaning teams travel, and they can’t do that right now.

“There are stages that the OHF has put out that we have to follow along, and that basically takes us through the fall,” he explains. “Hopefully, we’re looking at a December, January period where maybe, if we’re lucky, things can return to normal.”

Right now, everything is health and safety focused, and making sure every participant on and off the ice is healthy and safe.

There are wide ranging policies from the facilities, the city, and other governing bodies to take into account as well.

“For us, it’s, again, instead of travel everything is local within the association to start,” he says.

With less ice availability, he says right now they’re looking at three ice sessions per week per team. This includes one skill session, one practice, and one four-on-four or three-on-three game.

Players are also being grouped into tiered cohorts of single-A, double-A, and triple-A, and other levels together.

The teams all have to consist of players 15 and under, and they’re aiming for around 40 players per level, as they are aiming to create teams of 10. However, for practices they can have up to 25 people on the ice.

“It’s been a massive change for us, and a massive undertaking. These past few weeks have been a lot,” he says.

While Collins is currently looking at the present and COVID-19, he says he does have long-term plans as well.

“It’s no secret that Oshawa has struggled a bit in the past… and there’s no one specific reason for that,” he says, adding over the last few years things have begun to bounce back.

Ultimately, he wants Oshawa to become more competitive, but he knows it’s not going to happen overnight.

“I think that one of our strong suits already… was what’s offered from the administrative side, the cost side,” he says.

Now he just wants the hockey side to improve alongside the administrative side.