Prior to the 2010-11 season, the Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association and the Olean Youth Hockey Association merged and created the Southern Tier Storm — all-girls hockey teams that compete in the Great Lakes Hockey League and play against organizations from across the region.
Southern Tier Storm coach Tom McFall was rather succinct when explaining the reason for the merger.
“The main reason was we were able to provide a better opportunity for girls,” McFall said of the Jamestown, N.Y. club.
Initially, McFall coached in the CCYHA, and over time the number of girls declined. Meanwhile in Olean, there weren’t enough girls for two teams but there were too many for one team.
“[Olean] coach Jim McFarlane and I had talked,” McFall said. “The previous season he had three of my girls come over to his Under-16 team. Their numbers dropped for that tournament-bound team.
“We finished the year pretty well. Then we decided from then on to come up with a tournament-bound team and a non-tournament-bound team.”
As a result, for the last two seasons the Storm has been comprised of a U-19 tournament-bound team plus a U-16 non-tournament-bound team.
“Our hope is to start getting younger girls involved,” McFall said. “We want to try to get 10s and 12s to keep the ball rolling so to speak.”
McFall and his two older brothers have been involved with travel hockey “forever.”
“The goal is to provide an opportunity for girls to play,” McFall said. “Currently we’re at 28 to 30 girls for the two teams. We graduated some from my U-19 team who went on to college.
“But there has been a drop in the number of teams in the Great Lakes League. We’re down to five teams in our U-19 division and our rec division is down a little bit, too. I can recall years ago when there were four divisions in the non-tournament-bound division. But we’re hoping to keep building. We need to start getting the younger girls, especially the U-10s to replenish and get more girls playing.”
One way to do that is to persuade girls and their parents to stop playing in co-ed leagues and register for an all-girls program like the Storm.
“One thing I’ve noticed with the younger girls since they took checking out of Peewees is some of the girls hang in longer with the boys,” McFall said. “But it seems with their ponytails sticking out they’ve become targets.”
During their initial season under the Southern Tier Storm banner, the organization experienced surprising success.
“Our first year when we joined, our U-16 tournament-bound team made states,” McFall said.
Later this year, McFall will hold his 21st annual hockey camp. Over the last three years he’s run mini-camp with 25 girls, the majority of whom play for the Storm.
“The mini-camp provides girls more ice time,” McFall said. “Personally, I’ve coached these girls for years, but I like them to have another voice, another opinion, somebody else to run them through drills.”
That’s why two of his coaches are experienced: Holly Tyng played at Dartmouth, where she’s currently an assistant coach, and Kristin Cirbus is a Colgate alumnus who’s currently an assistant coach at Bowdoin.
Not surprisingly, the Southern Tier Storm has implemented USA Hockey’s American Development Model.
“In practices, we do a ton of ADM-related drills with a lot of touches with the puck and a lot of small-area games,” McFall said. “I also tell girls it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about developing and if we make mistakes, how do we correct them? Let’s go out there to learn and carry on what you learn from hockey later in life. There are a lot of life lessons you can learn from hockey.
“I’m a teacher, so I look at my team as a classroom. Some of the teams we play are better than us, so I want us to out-work them.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Starting with the upcoming season, USA Hockey is launching a new online curriculum in our Officiating Education Program. In addition to the standard registration requirements, including application, open and closed book testing and attendance at a USA Hockey Officiating Seminar, every official must complete the online material prior to receiving their card and crest for 2014-15.
The online curriculum is designed to enhance educational experience with accurate and consistent officiating information. The online modules will be broken down into three categories. The first two requirements will include general and level-specific presentations. The third category will have elective courses from a variety of topics such as positioning, procedures, penalty criteria and the mental game. These electives will be level-specific and allow you to hone your officiating skills in areas you select.
The length of each presentation will vary depending on content and focus. The majority of the presentations will fall in the 5- to 10-minute range, followed by a short quiz reviewing the content. The entire online curriculum will take 3-5 hours to complete, depending on the level of the official. The in-person seminar each official will be required to attend will be abbreviated and designed to supplement the material presented in the online curriculum.
Instructions on accessing the online seminar will be sent to you upon receiving your USA Hockey application. The curriculum will be accessed through your USAHockey.com profile and can be completed at your leisure, meaning you can log out and log back in to pick up where you left off. Some presentations are designed to be viewed before attending the seminar as a means to improve the overall seminar experience. These will be highlighted for your consideration.
Officials will find this new system to be beneficial and it will make your overall USA Hockey experience a more valuable one. Let’s get the season off to a great start!
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