The youngest Norwood Hornets goaltending prospects have been given a big assist from the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) which has donated essential hockey gear valued at around $1,000.
The pads, glove, blocker, stick, chest protector and bag as well as teaching resources for coaches is a significant addition to the supply of goaltending equipment Norwood District Minor Sports already has for its youngest players, says NDMS equipment executive Jeff Baptie.
The organization can provide goaltending equipment to youngsters from Tyke through to perhaps first-year Bantam, says Baptie, so the donation, one of 40 made to Ontario Minor Hockey Association members this season, is "so helpful."
The donation, part of the IBAO's well-received Goalie Assist Program, was made by Norwood District Minor Sports hockey grad Bob Bullock, now a broker with Reg Ward Insurance in Campbellford. The NDMS made the application to the OMHA and was fortunate to be selected.
"We were very lucky," said Baptie.
"It's so helpful because we are having so much trouble getting young goalies started because parents are afraid of the cost," he says.
The shortage of goalies at the Novice, Atom and Peewee levels is not an exclusively Norwood problem, says Baptie, noting that locally Stirling and Campbellford are also experiencing the same dilemma.
The donation will "help alleviate some of the cost for the parents; they don't have to shell out for equipment," said Baptie.
Hockey is an expensive sport and soaring costs are scaring some families away. The cost escalates significantly for prospective goaltenders and the youngest players are discouraged from thinking about that position. Factor in growth spurts during this age, and it's understandable why parents don't want to buy a goaltender's kit for their child.
The Norwood Hornets already supply goalie equipment up to Peewee and possibly first-year Bantam and that helps, says Baptie.
"The equipment we have is enough so that kids can see if they like [the position]. So they can grow through our system."
Some of that equipment, he admits, is "a little bit outdated" so the new gear from the IBAO is appreciated, Baptie said.
"What minor sports would like to see is each team with two goalies. Right now we're struggling at Peewee, Atom and even Novice [with] only one for each team. As far as the future goes, if you don't have a goalie you don't have a team."
"It's really worthwhile," says Bullock, who played defence in Norwood and remembers the support players got from the Lions Club and Legion.
"It's kind of nice because I grew up here and played my minor hockey here so I'm giving back. It's tough to get goalies now."
It's never too late for players to try their luck in net, says Baptie, noting that Tyler Oliver, one of the best goalies Norwood Minor Sports has produced, didn't start at that position until Peewee.