2021 nvw hns safety rep

A thousand reasons to be thankful

During a challenging hockey season, a new volunteer team member in Nova Scotia helped ensure the game could safely return to the ice

Garreth MacDonald
April 22, 2021

High hockey IQ playmakers.

Tenacious checkers.

Mobile blue-liners.

Calm, cool and collected netminders.

And, of course, goal scorers who just seem to have a nose for the net.

When putting together a hockey team, there are a lot of important pieces that make up a winning roster. But this season in Nova Scotia, players across the province welcomed a brand-new type of teammate.

And without them, they may not have been able to hit the ice at all.

Enter the safety rep.

As part of Hockey Nova Scotia’s Rebound Plan, the return-to-play framework that helped get the game back up and running in the province last summer, each team, league and association was required to have a safety rep.

“This season, I really think the safety reps were the most vital members of every team,” Hockey Nova Scotia executive director Amy Walsh says.

“They took some pressure off the coaching staff and off the players so they could really focus on playing the game.”

The safety rep’s main role was educating their teams, leagues and associations on COVID-19 safety protocols and Public Health guidelines.

In the fluid and ever-changing pandemic climate, that was no easy task.

“Every time we at Hockey Nova Scotia had to pivot because of new Public Health restrictions or adjustments to protocols, they had to pivot, too,” Walsh says.

“They were so diligent in their positions and they all took their roles so seriously.”

In all, close to 1,000 volunteers gave up their time across the province to serve in this newly created position. One of their most important tasks was maintaining the COVID-19 self-screening registry, which provided a database that could be also be used for contact tracing in the event of COVID-19 exposure.

Hockey Nova Scotia chief medical officer Dr. Tina Atkinson says that proved to be instrumental in helping the sport return to Nova Scotia rinks after the game was shut down across Canada in March 2020.

“The safety reps were absolutely crucial to the success of our plan and in our return,” Dr. Atkinson says. “Making sure that everyone understood the plan, followed the protocols and recognized the importance of screening and contact tracing was so important. It was a really big ask and the people who did that job, they took it on enthusiastically and that was really amazing to see.”

The contributions and efforts of the safety reps were not only noticed by Hockey Nova Scotia, they were also greatly appreciated by hockey parents.

“The safety reps certainly helped with the confidence of our hockey families because what they offered was peace of mind,” Walsh says. “Having them involved our game allowed for our parents and players to feel safe at the rink.”

It wasn’t always just about safety either. Many of these volunteers went above and beyond the call of duty.

“We heard all kinds of stories about the safety reps livestreaming games and practices, providing play-by-play online and introducing apps for their teams that could be used for self-screening,” Dr. Atkinson says. “It was really interesting to see that kind of innovation and creativity.”

It has been a difficult 14 months for Canadians across the country in every aspect of life. But despite a few bumps along the road, hockey players in Nova Scotia were allowed to enjoy a bit of normalcy at the rink this season.

“We really could not have had the hockey season that we had without them and we’re so grateful for their time this year because we know how very time consuming it was for them,” Walsh says.

On behalf of every hockey player in Nova Scotia, thank you to all the safety rep volunteers who made us feel confident when we stepped on the ice during this unprecedented year.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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