Grosse Pointe Hockey Association has become a poster child for USA Hockey’s American Development Model. In fact, the Detroit-area club was featured in ESPN The Magazine in June for its success with the revolutionary youth development program.
Past president and current board member Jerry Bourque has several reasons why he advocates the ADM.
One has more to do with parents than their children.
“One of the most successful parts of ADM is not because it puts so many kids on ice,” Bourque said. “It also means there are so many parents at the rink. We can feel there’s an energy coming from this.
“I believe in community-based hockey programs. When you have 50,000 travel teams, it’s impossible to get that sense of community. The ADM has restored some of the energy that’s made it positive.”
Grosse Pointe implemented the ADM three years ago because, according to Bourque, the association felt “it was the right thing to do.”
“We made a decision because we were kind of anticipating the ADM was coming,” he said. “We were ahead of the curve. We felt this was the way to go.
“My slogan is ‘The kids get more ice time.’ We have the ability to put very good instructors out there. You get more ice time with better coaching for less money.”
The GPHA met with minimal resistance when the ADM was added; Bourque said approximately five families left the association.
“But we didn’t lose 30 percent,” Bourque said. “We must have grown the first year by 20 percent. We had a tremendous response from the kids. Last season, I don’t think we lost anybody who went to go and play somewhere else. Our numbers keep growing, so we couldn’t be happier.”
Bourque credits three people for the success and growth of the GPHA: Paul Fayad, Rob McIntyre and Don Jaeger.
“Once the word got out, these three guys are the ones who made it so good,” Bourque said. “Paul is one of our instructors but also is the organizer, which was critical. He needed to market and make sure the right things were going on behind the scenes because it’s a lot of work.”
McIntyre is the head instructor while Jaeger is an instructor who played his college hockey at Fredonia (N.Y.) State.
“Don brings the importance of a proper diet into the program,” said Bourque. “He’s also a great instructor and the kids love him.
“These are the guys who run the program.”
The program has been run so well that GPHA teams have annexed several championships. For example:
“I attribute [these championships] to the ADM,” Bourque said. “The Mite Blue team participated in the state tournament for the first time and won it.
The mite program follows the ADM's red, white and blue program and the other teams also claimed successful seasons following the ADM at other age levels.
Prior to last season, the GPHA decided to add an ADM program for girls. That task fell to GPHA secretary Biz Williamson.
“She was the one who got the all-girls ADM on the ice,” Bourque said. “We did an all-girls ADM because we believed this was a market that was completely untapped. We started off with about 20 girls. Then we opened it up and at one time had about 63 girls on the ice last season. We started from nothing.
“I’ve had people ask me ‘Why is our association successful?’ Do we have good programs? Yes. Do we have good instructors? Yes. If the kids can skate and have fun then they feel good about what they’re doing.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.