Orangeville Tigers ready for 44th year in the community

August 24, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

There will be a new face at the head of the table as the Orangeville Tigers girls’ hockey club prepares for its 44th year in the community with Michelle Whyte replacing the retiring Doug O’Malley as the organization’s new president.

Stepping into the role following three years as Director of Player Development on the Tigers’ executive and eight years as a coach, Ms. Whyte is excited to take the reins of an organization she says is very close to her heart.

“The Orangeville Tigers is an absolutely incredible organization, dating back to its very beginnings when the team was known as the Orangeville Sweethearts,” Ms. Whyte said. “I know first-hand just how great things were back then, as I was a Sweetheart myself in my early years.”

Michelle said she feels this move is almost as if she’s come full circle in her life. Starting out as an eight-year-old in Orangeville, she spent the next nine years perfecting her skills before heading off to play varsity hockey at the University of Guelph. Now, several years later and with a family in tow, Michelle said she simply wants to help girls in the community realize their potential and have fun playing Canada’s favourite sport.

“A lot of people may think this is just hockey, but it’s way more than that for us as an organization and for all the girls and women who come out to the rink week after week to see their second family,” she said. “I have a great passion for girls’ hockey in Orangeville. It’s where I started out. I can remember what it was like all those years ago coming to the rink and getting together with my Sweethearts teammates… I think it’s important to provide opportunities in the community.”

Having officially taken over the role at the end of May, Michelle has had a few months now to get her feet under the table and familiarize herself with her new surroundings. With a “fantastic” executive of 15 people supporting her and growing group of approximately 100 volunteers committing to helping the roughly 30 teams the Tigers expect to have this season, she’s hoping the 2017-18 season will be right up there with the best the organization has experienced to date.

So far, 377 girls have signed up for the upcoming season. The organization offers both a rep program and house league, with teams available for girls as young as four all the way through to a senior recreation program featuring women who are 40 and older. Tryouts for the organization’s rep teams were carried out in the spring, but Ms. Whyte says there’s still plenty of house league spots available.

“We encourage experienced players, we encourage players that have been gone for a while and we encourage people that have never tried the sport before. Hockey is a great thing and we want to get as many girls and women involved as possible,” Ms. Whyte said.

Playing on the second family theme, past president O’Malley gave his insight into what he feels is the Tigers’ biggest selling point.

“My daughter starting playing with the Tigers when she was six years old… I’ve loved having the opportunity to watch a group of girls grow and develop and not only learn the game of hockey, but learn valuable life lessons too,” Mr. O’Malley said. “I’m not trying to differentiate the game of hockey from other sports, but a lot of other activities for girls sees them off by themselves, working on things alone. In hockey there’s that team spirit and camaraderie. Creating friendships and bonds with other people. I feel that’s really important.”

The organization will be celebrating a special milestone this year with the 40th anniversary of its Sweetheart Tournament coming this November.

“This is going to be a big deal this year,” she said. The Sweetheart Tournament is hosted in the memory of the daughter of Jim Cronin, one of the organization’s founding members, who passed away at a young age. “That tournament is for both house league and rep so we have that to look forward to once again this year,” Ms. Whyte said. “The 40th anniversary is a big thing.”

With several strong characters having led the organization to continued success over the years, Michelle knows she has some big shoes to fill. Still, she’s confident that with a little bit of help she can continue to steer the Orangeville Tigers in a positive direction.

“To be around for 44 years is quite an accomplishment in girls’ hockey. It falls on me to now to ensure this organization continues to be as successful as it has been in recent years,” she said. “Some of our past presidents have done a great job. I’m hoping I can step up and continue to offer a fun, safe environment for girls and women to play hockey.”

For more information on the Tigers visit

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.