COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey’s annual winter meeting concluded last weekend with safety, growth and development the focal points of the four-day gathering of the top volunteers from across the country representing all areas of the organization.
At Sunday’s Board of Directors meeting, it was reported that the number of players in all age categories, as well as the number of coaches and officials have all increased year-to-date.
“Our growth and retention initiatives are certainly paying dividends,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “We’re excited about what the future holds and particularly look forward to working with the NHL and its member clubs on their Learn to Play initiative, which will roll out in earnest next season.”
“We’re working hard to ensure hockey is the best sports option in communities all across the country,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “Through innovative programming and a focus on safety, fun and age-appropriate development, it certainly appears our messaging is resonating with families.”
With safety as the top priority, Dr. Michael Stuart, chief medical and safety officer of USA Hockey, highlighted efforts of USA Hockey in continued support of research to make the game safer, particularly related to concussion efforts. Stuart reinforced that ongoing education is a priority for the organization and noted that additional materials on safety will soon be available in USA Hockey Mobile Coach and that a resource guide of injury management will be part of all coaching education modules. It was also reported that more than 132,000 coaches, officials, administrators and volunteers have completed the USA Hockey SafeSport module, the most of any national governing body. USA Hockey SafeSport is the organization’s off-ice safety program.
Advancing development of goaltenders was a featured topic, with future plans including creation of a network of trained individuals nationwide to assist in development of goaltenders at the local level.
“We’re taking our efforts related to goaltending to the next level,” said Smith. “We’ve established a committee to lead us. While we’ve done a good job in recent years, there are things we’d like to accomplish to continue moving forward.”
The goaltending committee, which will be soliciting input from a wide array of sources, is chaired by Kevin Reiter and also includes John Vanbiesbrouck and Phil Osaer.