Without the volunteer, there is no minor hockey in Canada – it’s really
that simple. And that volunteer can come in a variety of roles.
A part of National Volunteer Week, HockeyCanada.ca chatted with Isabelle
Rioux, team manager for the Bow River U11 Bruins in Calgary, to talk about
her role, what it entails and why others should give their time to the
How did you get involved with Bow River Minor Hockey?
IR: I must admit, I was a skeptic when my husband signed our kids up to
play hockey four years ago. We were a skiing family and, to me, this meant
my sport was going to be put on the back burner. That's when our story with
Bow River started. Without knowing it, we were joining a new community that
was going to become much more than I anticipated.
How did you get involved as a team manager?
IR: Two years ago, both our sons’ teams needed a manager, so my husband and
I decided to take on these positions. We had only done minor volunteering
roles prior, but we sort of had the itch to be more involved. It was a
steep learning curve, but we were able to bounce ideas off each other and
progress together. We learned quickly that other parents have the same itch
to help more, so we went with it. My first year being team manager was
great! These parents became friends, and we were able to achieve all our
goals off the ice so our kids and coaches had a great year on the ice. When the position was open again last season, I did
not hesitate in raising my hand!
Why did you decide to volunteer your time in this role?
IR: After we saw our kids' love for playing hockey and having fun with
their friends in the dressing room, we were all in. With the support of
parent volunteers and Bow River Hockey, it didn’t take me long to say “I
got this!” I also quickly realized that I am doing it for the kids. We want
them to learn important lessons – perseverance, teamwork, leadership, etc.
We also want them to have fun, and a team manager is essential in making
What exactly does a team manager do? What are the responsibilities that
go into it?
IR: As a team manager, your main responsibilities are being organized,
communicating efficiently, knowing all the rules, leading the team through
important decisions on budgets and making sure things run smoothly
throughout the season. You also need to make sure that every family
volunteers and feels like they are part of the team. Working hand-in-hand
with the head coach as you make decisions together to benefit the team is
another vital responsibility.
What are the challenges?
IR: In general, as a team manager, you could have difficulties getting
everyone to fulfill their volunteer hours. You will also need to deal with
humans who have emotions. You need to listen to concerns or frustrations,
and you might need to resolve conflicts between parents or kids.
What are the wins?
IR: There are multiple wins in being a team manager. First, working
together to achieve goals that were set at the beginning of the season is
very satisfying. Then, seeing the kids have fun, improve and be grateful
for all that you do is also rewarding. But to me, the most important win is
the lasting relationships and new friendships I have developed over the
last two years. As I said previously, my family is now part of a community
composed of people that support, encourage and help each other throughout
the hockey season, and that is priceless.
What advice would you give to someone that may be interested in
volunteering their time but isn’t sure what to expect?
IR: If you are interested in becoming a team manager, you need to know that
it is a big time commitment, but one that is totally worth it. If you are
still unsure about volunteering, talking to someone who has done it before
can help in deciding if this is for you. Finding a mentor can also be
useful. Yes, there are challenges but, in the end, the rewards mean so much
Why are volunteer roles like this one and so many others important in
the local hockey association?
IR: It's very simple – without volunteers, minor hockey would be
nonexistent. We need people to get involved, contribute to their community
and show our kids that they matter and that we are there for them. As I
said in my first answer, I was a skeptic when my kids started playing
hockey four years ago. Slowly but surely, the sport has taken a special
place in my heart, and being a team manager has hugely contributed to this.
I now proudly call myself a Hockey Mom and I have the long black winter
parka to prove it!