Minor sports associations in Windsor-Essex say they are finding it hard to get enough volunteers to coach teams.
The Windsor Minor Hockey Association managed to fill its empty spots, but only just in time for the start of the season.
Part of the problem is that becoming a coach is a lot more daunting than it used to be.
"A lot of it has to do with the police checks. If you work a regular job and they're only open certain hours, it's hard to get down there and then you might be randomly picked for fingerprinting which is extra work involved," Windsor Minor Hockey president Dean Lapierre said.
Lapierre said approximately 75 per cent of the associations coaches come forward to volunteer.
"We worked on the other 25 per cent," he said.
He said the decline started in the last three to five years.
Ottawa is having similar problems. A backlog of background checks has diminished the number of volunteer coaches available for puck drop this season.
Nepean Minor Hockey has 900 volunteer coaches and trainers with the organization who need criminal background checks.
To speed things up for the large organization - and to reduce lineups at police headquarters - members from the Ottawa Police background clearance section will be going to the hockey association to process the applications there.
Parents a problem
Lapierre also said one of the biggest headaches for coaches is dealing with overzealous parents who argue about how much ice time their kids are getting.
Ron Cherubin has coached for Riverside minor hockey in the past and said parents of the youngest ones are the worst because too many parents think their kids are growing up to be Wayne Gretzky.
"Any decision that you make, you get a lot of flak from parents. They forget its just about the kids," Cherubin said.
The problem doesn't just plague minor hockey, it also affects other sports such as minor baseball coaches and umpires, too.
Jeff White is a head coach at Riverside Minor Baseball who said parents are becoming more outspoken.
'The parents, they think everybody's going pro.' - Steve Dupuis, umpire
"A lot of the parents in the stands seem to know more than you, so they speak their mind, but a lot of time they're not helping out," White said. "So rather than just letting the coaches just deal with the game as it goes along and offering some advice after, they seem to be speaking out a lot more."
Umpire Steve Dupuis said it's turned into a steady stream of heckling.
"The parents, they think everybody's going pro or getting a scholarship and some of the stuff it's getting pretty intense," he said.
The positions are voluntarily so for people who don't have a lot of time to give up in the first place, it can leave a bad taste in their mouths.
Riverside Minor Baseball umpires get a small stipend so league officials have started offering other incentives, such as volunteer appreciation dinners and awards banquets to help entice the reluctant volunteers.