2015 Pre-Season President's Letter
Welcome to the 2015 Cumberland Panthers football season! Whether you are a new family to the club or a family who has been involved for years, we look forward to sharing this exciting sport with you. The Panthers are entering their 22nd year of operation and have grown to become the largest football club in Eastern Ontario and one of the largest in the province. The purpose of this email is to introduce the club to parents and players and explain some of the plans we have for 2015.
My name is Mark Ouellet and I am the new president of the club. I have been involved with the Panthers since the beginning and have witnessed the club grow from a single team with 36 players to the current compliment of 12 teams and over 350 players. For the last two seasons, I have served the club as the VP, Football Operations and I am also the NCAFA Bantam Head Coach. I have coached minor football for 25 years and continue to learn more about this sport nearly every single day.
Our Club Executive team is a group of devoted volunteers with varying levels of experience in football. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our club. From the moms who have never held a football to former pro football players, our volunteers come in all flavours. We are always looking for new face to join our volunteer ranks. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you feel you could devote some time and energy toward our club goals.
This weekend marks the beginning of the 2015 OVFL season. Our three teams have been working since February to get ready for opening day. The OVFL is a top-tier provincial-level league that attracts the best talent in Ontario during the summer months. Cumberland has long been a strong club in this league but has yet to bring home a championship. We are convinced that 2015 is the year that this changes. The action begins with the BV team at Millennium Sports Park at 12:00pm pm on Saturday and will continue until the end of the OV game around 7:30. The full OVFL Schedule is available for viewing and we hope to see as many fans out as we can pack in our park!
Preparations are well under way for the 2015 NCAFA season. Both the Flag and Girls’ Touch programs get under way this week, with the first Girls’ games held this Sunday at Millennium (10:45am and 1:15pm). Our cheerleading program has been overhauled for 2015 with some exciting changes and we are introducing our new one week L’il Panthers Training Camp for 5 and 6 year olds in July. By the end of July, our five NCAFA teams will be on the field and preparing to improve on the two A-Cup Championships we brought home last season. There is still time to register for all NCAFA programs and you can do so by clicking here.
A topic on my mind of many families these days are concussions. Most of the volunteers in this club are also parents of football players and we are just as concerned as you are. There are many initiatives being pursued both within the club and by outside organizations that are changing the face of the game. These are very much welcome changes and as a club we are committed to doing everything we can to mitigate the circumstances that cause head injuries, identify and treat the symptoms of concussions and create firm return-to-play procedures to ensure that no child is placed in any contact drills or games before being fully recovered. All coaches in our program have completed a course to help them identify affected players. All head coaches and assistant head coaches have completed the Football Canada Safe Contact course, which has created new standards for tackling, blocking and practicing. We welcome your questions and comments on this important issue. Our head trainer, Ben Desjardins, would be happy to hear from you.
Another issue that has been a hot topic for many players is the status of the high school football programs in the likely event of teacher job action in September. Since so many are asking about it, I went to a friend in a position of knowledge with Ottawa high school athletics and was told in no uncertain terms that barring a miracle, there will be no high school football in 2015. NCAFA is preparing a plan to accommodate the expected influx of players to bantam and midget this fall but rosters can only handle so many players. More to follow, I’m sure.
Throughout the year, the Panthers hold some really fun special events. This year, we have two great events planned that not only create memories but also greatly assist the club in fundraising. First, the Annual Panthers Golf Tournament will be held July 26th at Hammond Golf Course. Full details will be on the website and on Facebook in the next few weeks. This day will include the golf, a full dinner, silent auction and many prizes! The more parents and family members we get playing golf, the better the individual team banquets will be at the end of the year.
On the weekend of August 29th and 30th, our second annual PantherFest will be held at Millennium Park. On Saturday we have a full day of games versus our rivals the Orleans Bengals, followed by live music, Hall of Fame presentations, great food and refreshing drinks under our huge beer tent set up right on the field. Events and activities for the little ones will be held all day alongside the games. We will welcome visits from Ottawa RedBlacks players and Cheerleaders. The next day, the Panthers will invade TD Place Stadium when the RedBlacks host the Roughriders at 4:00pm. Discount tickets will be on sale during all Panthers’ home games, starting this Saturday!
For information on volunteering at either of these events, please contact our Director of Special Events, Tracey Fitzpatrick.
As with any organization of this type, sponsorship of our club is critical to our being able to offer top-notch programs as a reasonable cost to families. We’ve been able to registration fees at a stable amount for a few years now and to be able to continue to do so, we need to continue to sow sponsor relationships with the community. We have many different levels of sponsorship available. For sponsorship enquiries, please contact our Director of Sponsorship and Fundraising, Nik Topolovic.
While this message will probably be the first of a few messages you’ll see from me over the course of the year, please do not hesitate to approach me, or any other member of the Panthers’ staff when you see us at the practice or game fields. I can be reached at any time via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m looking forward to meeting many new faces this season.
Onward to the season and display your Panthers Pride!
Cumberland Panthers Football Club