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The Mid-Missouri Tigers Are Earning Their Stripes

03/26/2014, 4:30pm EDT
By Mike Scandura - Special to USAHockey.com

The Mid-Missouri Tigers are on the move.

Just ask Tigers President James Greer.

“I’ve been with the organization for seven years, and I’m so proud this year because our Squirt and Peewee teams won the Missouri state championship in our divisions,” Greer said of the Jefferson City, Mo.-based association. “Our Midget team plays in the Mid America High School Hockey League. They won their year-end tournament over Wichita, who had won the tournament the last four years in a row.

“There was a great deal of satisfaction regarding what the teams accomplished. We don’t win state championships every year. To win three in one year was very exciting. I don’t remember having won three championships in one year. I’m pretty sure it’s a record for our organization.”

The reasons for the Tigers’ success are numerous. For example, the Tigers bought into USA Hockey’s American Development Model three years ago.

“We definitely have more players because of [the ADM],” Greer said. “They have more time to develop instead of throwing them out there on the ice for full-ice games.”

As Greer noted, the Tigers’ adherence to the ADM scales down the playing surface and equipment and focuses on building player skills and having fun.

The Tigers field teams at the Mini-Mite, Mite, Squirt, Peewee and Bantam levels. Once players have used up their eligibility at the youth level, they play for a Midget level program that’s in a Midget league in the St. Louis area.    

The Tigers’ learn-to-skate/learn-to-play program has been a boon.

“The last two years have been excellent because we’ve partnered with our parks and recreation department in Jefferson City instead of doing it ourselves,” Greer said. “It’s really helped.”

The organization’s scholarship program fills also an important need.

“We have a certain part of our budget that goes to scholarships,” Greer said. “It works out to a few dollars for every player. Typically we don’t throw out full scholarships. We ask the family to take care of part of the bill, and then we do what we can do help defer expenses.

“We’re very economical compared with clubs we play against in St. Louis. We economize, which makes it more affordable.”

The Tigers also emphasize some of the more subjective aspects of hockey — aspects other than basic skills like skating, passing and shooting.

“A lot of it is like with most clubs in that a lot of families help each other out,” Greer said. “Our coaches have been involved for many years. Many are 40 years old, but given their experience that helps a lot.

“Some of our coaches not only teach hockey but they also teach life lessons, too, as well as helping kids build confidence, pride and responsibility. Because they emphasize hockey is a game that can be played for fun, they’re able to enjoy it for life.”

There’s more, especially when it comes developing friendships and time management skills.

“Starting with the bonds created in the locker room to the relationships formed on the ice, hockey creates lifelong friendships,” Greer said. “This camaraderie shared on and off the ice encourages teamwork and the development of leadership skills.

“Kids also learn to balance school, responsibilities at home and time at the rink. The sport encourages kids to learn time management skills that will later serve them in all facets of their lives. Hockey also is a prime source of physical fitness and helps promote healthy living.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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