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Four Become Model Association Programs

06/21/2013, 11:30am MDT
By USA Hockey

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey announced today that the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Optimist Hockey Association, the Kettler Capitals, the Montgomery (Md.) Youth Hockey Association and San Jose Jr. Sharks have been named USA Hockey Model Association programs.
 
With the designation, the four organizations have committed to follow the American Development Model in full at the 8-and-under, 10-and-under and 12-and-under age groups. The ADM is based on age-appropriate training to fully benefit children in their hockey and overall athletic development.
 
"We are excited to welcome this next group of model associations," said Kevin McLaughlin, senior director of hockey development for USA Hockey. "They're committed to ensuring the best possible competition and training environment for kids involved in their programs."

All USA Hockey associations have the opportunity to be recognized as a model association by meeting appropriate criteria. More information can be found here.
 
As a benefit of their model program designation, KOHA, MYHA, the Kettler Capitals and the San Jose Jr. Sharks will receive added support from USA Hockey to assist in implementing the ADM throughout their programs, including equipment, signage, and educational materials. Further, all four will receive on-going staff support from USA Hockey's national office, including in-depth coaches training and parent education that will commence in early September.

"Our mission is to continue to grow the game of hockey in the Bay Area and provide all the tools necessary for our customers to enjoy the game for years to come," said Jon Gustafson, general manager of Sharks Ice. "We are honored to be a driver and a partner with USA Hockey and the ADM program, which emphasizes long-term skill development and creating a love for the game. California is now considered a thriving hockey market and we are very excited about the future growth on the West Coast." 

"Since being implemented into our 8U program, the ADM has been a huge success," said Brian Tulik, director of hockey operations for KOHA. "The players' level of skill, passion and love of the game has increased, and seeing the young, smiling faces participating in this great game of ours is priceless. Although there are still a few people that think it can't work, the sports science and research that has gone into the ADM and LTAD (Long-Term Athletic Development) prove otherwise. We look forward to our kids' improved development and overall enjoyment of the game as we continue to implement the ADM throughout all divisions within our program."

"For the past few seasons, we have used the ADM at the Mite level and have seen a tremendous increase in the overall skill development of all players," said Rob Keegan, director of coaching at MYHA. "We look forward to working with USA Hockey and continuing to provide our players with the best possible age-appropriate training which will enable our players to reach their full potential."

"Kettler Capitals Iceplex, home of the Washington Capitals, is excited to be recognized as a USA Hockey Model Association," said Dan Jablonic, hockey director for Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "Implementing this world leading model set out by USA Hockey and the NHL gives our players and coaches the opportunity to improve their skills, have fun and enjoy the sport for a lifetime. We welcome the challenge and look forward to working with USA Hockey to set the example as the best player development program in our region."
 
NOTES: The ADM, with full support from the NHL, was launched in January of 2009 to provide associations nationwide – for the first time ever - a blueprint for optimal athlete development. The ADM is based on age-appropriate training and uses long-term athlete development principles as its foundation. It is for players of all ages and ability levels, including the most competitive ... The associations announced today join the Arvada (Colo.) Hockey Association, Colorado Springs Hockey Association, New Jersey Bandits and Orchard Lake (Mich.) United in being recognized as USA Hockey Model Association programs.

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INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN OFFICIATING

08/25/2015, 3:30pm MDT
By USA Hockey

No one has ever said that officiating, and especially officiating ice hockey, was easy. Rule knowledge, communication skills, fitness, skating and a natural presence are just some of the skills necessary to be a successful official.  Some possess more of these skills and those are the officials who advance to higher levels. But regardless of the level achieved or the skill set the official possesses, the one quality that should be equal among every official is a high level of integrity.

The national official staff members, along with our volunteer referees-in-chief and local supervisors, have heard growing concerns over a decreasing level of integrity among our youth hockey officials. It’s sometimes said that no one is holding them accountable. A portion of this perception is likely a typical “blame the officials” mentality, but some anecdotal evidence suggests there is also some merit to this concern. That’s alarming to USA Hockey, as it affects the credibility of our entire program, along with every member it represents. The blunt truth is this: even one official who isn’t on the up and up can and will damage the credibility of all officials who do take pride in the integrity of their work.

Whether we like it or not, officials are under a microscope, and by the nature of the business, are held to a very high standard. When we signed up for this officiating gig, we committed ourselves to represent the game of hockey, USA Hockey, our local group of officials and ourselves as people of integrity who accept the responsibility and guardianship of enforcing the rules in a fair and consistent manner. Most importantly, we must remember that the game is bigger than all of us and that the game itself is what we serve. Those who lose sight of that not only compromise the competitive fairness of the games, they also make life more difficult for all of the officials by damaging the credibility of the officiating community.

An example of this type of unacceptable behavior occurred last season. A Level 2 adult official tended to work his games with a chip on his shoulder. He often created confrontation with coaches, alienated his younger partners with inaccurate advice and disregarded their help in attempting to get some calls and rule applications right. Even though the help they were providing was correct, he chose to maintain his incorrect position that affected the outcome of several games. He also tended to identify certain players and single them out for various infractions and/or on-ice lectures as a means of emphasizing his authority.

Once the trends were identified, concerns were voiced by several parents and coaches to the local assigner and supervisor, who acknowledged they had never seen the official’s work, but would keep throwing him out there working the same teams and levels that had expressed concerns regarding his attitude. This included intentionally assigning him a playoff game involving the coach who was the most vocal in expressing concerns. This official was then instructed to “throw the coach out if he says anything.”

That playoff game went without a hitch – a tight 2-1 game with a couple of close off-side plays and maybe an icing or two missed. In the post-game dressing room, the official in question, in the presence of his partners and the officials scheduled to work the next game, said, “It’s always a great day when you can make one or both of the coaches mad. It’s too bad the white team coach didn’t want to play along today.” The partners sat there in silence until finally a 12-year-old Level 1 official who was working the next game said, “I don’t think that’s right. We’re not supposed to bait coaches.”

The official got dressed quickly and left the room without saying another word. Kind of ironic that it was the innocent 12-year-old that seemed to “get it” and instill a sense of accountability among those in the room. Imagine how any 12-year-old player feels on the ice when they see the official(s) displaying an attitude that is simply not to the standard the game deserves. And yes, more often than not, they can see through those who do not have the level of integrity expected.

Fortunately, these types of officials are few and far between. But they do exist and to simply stick our heads in the sand and not address the concern is irresponsible. Each of us, as officials, has an obligation to behave in a professional manner at all times and take our role seriously. We have made a commitment to approach each game with the understanding that the game is about the players and we should be invisible until the players require us to appear as a result of infractions that occur. Respect is a two-way street and simply putting on the sweater with the USA Hockey crest suggests respect is warranted, but only if supported by your actions.

USA Hockey has an obligation to create a non-threatening environment that promotes respect for officials and an opportunity for officials to improve through education and evaluation. USA Hockey does this through playing rules, points of emphasis, zero tolerance policies and comprehensive education programs for officials, coaches, parents and players.

In return, the game expects USA Hockey officiating members to bring a professional image to every contest and an attitude that creates a positive environment and makes the game better. We realize everyone makes mistakes – it’s part of the game. However, laziness or unprofessional behavior is unacceptable and being creative in rule enforcement and not holding players/coaches accountable for infractions will only make the next team of officials’ jobs much more difficult and set them up for failure.

The reality is that the game official must always hold themselves to the highest level of integrity and behavior both on and off the ice. Maybe that’s fair, or maybe not, but it is the expectation we are required to meet.

As we head into the 2015-16 season, ask yourself if you are willing to meet that expectation. If the answer is yes, welcome back and we look forward to a great season.

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