AMHERST - The spotlight shined on the Cumberland Minor Hockey Association at the Hockey Nova Scotia Annual Awards Banquet recently held at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax.
Rookie development coordinator, Matt Chitty of Amherst, won the Minor Hockey Association Development Coordinator of the Year award, while the Cumberland County Minor Hockey Association won the Minor Hockey Association Development Award of the Year.
"It was an honour to win the award," Chitty said. "But the award wasn't so much mine as it was the entire associations. So I was happy for myself but also happy that the association won an award."
Last year was Chitty's first year as the development coordinator.
"I think Hockey Nova Scotia was happy with us," Chitty said. "They knew things were getting done here before but they never had much contact with us.
"That was the big thing," Chitty added. "Every couple of days I was talking to Hockey Nova Scotia."
A development coordinator is involved in many aspects minor hockey and they're in constant contact with to parents, coaches and the executive.
"The biggest challenge as the development coordinator is you oversee coaches selection, you help out with player selection for provincial teams and if a coach is having a problem they come to me and say, 'my teams not doing this, what can I do,' and I'd help come up with some drills."
Chitty also coordinated the Development Weekend held in Amherst and it received rave reviews for how well it was run.
Being a development coordinator can sometimes be a fulltime job and next season Chitty's load will be lightened as he takes on the role of director.
"I have four kids and development took up a lot of time," he said. "As a director you can say, 'hey I'm the equipment guy or I'm on the Bluenose committee,' but when you're on development and somebody calls you up with a problem, guess what, you have to have an answer, you can't say, "I'm not on that committee.
"Development is an all year thing where you're asking yourself, 'OK, what can we do to develop the kids, not just as hockey players, but also as human beings," Chitty said. "Where, as a director, if you're on the bluenose committee, when you're done, you're done. Then you say, 'what next."
When asked if there was anything he would have done different last season, Chitty just wishes he had more time.
"There's a few things I was hoping to do last year that didn't get done, such as having more clinics, but once you get going you end up with time restraints," he said.
His successor as development coordinator is Jeff Lewis, who is the assistant coach for the Amherst Maritime Junior A Ramblers.
Does he have any advice for Lewis?
"I don't know how much advice Jeff needs," Chitty said. "He's a phys. ed. teacher, he grew up playing minor hockey here in Cumberland and he's an assistant coach with the Ramblers, so he's super intelligent when it comes to hockey.
"And as far as people who listen to children and knows how to communicate, I don't know anybody better than Jeff Lewis. He's top notch."
He does emphasize how great it was working with Hockey Nova Scotia's technical director Darren Sutherland and the importance of keeping in contact with him.
"He was great," Chitty said. "If you asked about a particular course, he'd say, 'there's four of them in Nova Scotia, if you want it, you can have it.' He was always really helpful."
When asked what plans the Cumberland County Minor Hockey Association has for next season Chitty would only say, "there are good things to come."
Also winning an award was Parrsboro’s Stephen Clarke, who won an officiating award as Most Improved Official.