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TAKE 5 with USA Hockey’s Matt Herr

08/18/2014, 2:00pm MDT
By USAHockey.com

From lifelong friendships to powerful life lessons to everlasting memories of thrilling victories, there are many reasons for your kids to play sports.

As a parent, you can encourage your kids to participate in, or at least try, youth sports. With so many other factors and activities pulling them in different directions, it’s important to properly frame and discuss the many rewards of playing sports.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive™ sat down with USA Hockey coach Matt Herr to get his thoughts on the importance of playing sports along with the life lessons he learned.

In our exclusive TAKE 5 interview, Matt, who serves as Regional Manager of the American Development Model, told us that he believes the biggest life lesson taught by sports is to fully focus on and address the details – because they always add up to something bigger.

“Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to show his teams how to wear their socks,” said Matt. “In sports, it’s about doing the little things correctly in order to accomplish something bigger in the end. In order to succeed, you need to take care of the details.”

Matt added that sports also teach kids to process and come back from setbacks.

“We will all fail at some point in our lives,” said Matt. “The hope is that we can learn from that failure and become better, whether in school, at our jobs, or in hockey.”

Matt stressed that it’s also important for both coaches and parents to help their kids deal with those failures and setbacks after they happen.

“Kids know when they have not played well in a game,” said Matt. “Parents should be supportive, and once the dust has settled (not on the car ride home), help their child understand what steps can be taken in order to improve for next time.”

Matt told us his parents were always there for him when it came to offering this kind of strong, smart support. He also recalled a particularly powerful example of that parental support and dedication.

“My mom would put on the goalie pads at times and let me shoot on her in the driveway,” remembered Matt. “Having now played at all levels from Mites to the NHL, I wish I had that time back when my mom was shooting tennis balls at me pretending she was Ron Duguay (New York Rangers) and I was Billy Smith (New York Islanders) playing for the Stanley Cup.”

To Matt, this is just another example of the game of hockey not only teaching many life lessons, but  also offering a very compelling reason for kids to play, no matter how far their career advances.

“The number one reason: it is FUN!,” said Matt.

To read the full TAKE 5 interview with Matt, visit PlayPositive.com. And come back next month for another exclusive TAKE 5 interview!

At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of sportsmanship and integrity shown by people every day. We created Play Positive™, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, as part of this belief to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display good sportsmanship. We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support winning on and off the ice.

©2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

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From lifelong friendships to powerful life lessons to everlasting memories of thrilling victories, there are many reasons for your kids to play sports.

As a parent, you can encourage your kids to participate in, or at least try, youth sports. With so many other factors and activities pulling them in different directions, it’s important to properly frame and discuss the many rewards of playing sports.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive™ sat down with USA Hockey coach Matt Herr to get his thoughts on the importance of playing sports along with the life lessons he learned.

In our exclusive TAKE 5 interview, Matt, who serves as Regional Manager of the American Development Model, told us that he believes the biggest life lesson taught by sports is to fully focus on and address the details – because they always add up to something bigger.

“Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to show his teams how to wear their socks,” said Matt. “In sports, it’s about doing the little things correctly in order to accomplish something bigger in the end. In order to succeed, you need to take care of the details.”

Matt added that sports also teach kids to process and come back from setbacks.

“We will all fail at some point in our lives,” said Matt. “The hope is that we can learn from that failure and become better, whether in school, at our jobs, or in hockey.”

Matt stressed that it’s also important for both coaches and parents to help their kids deal with those failures and setbacks after they happen.

“Kids know when they have not played well in a game,” said Matt. “Parents should be supportive, and once the dust has settled (not on the car ride home), help their child understand what steps can be taken in order to improve for next time.”

Matt told us his parents were always there for him when it came to offering this kind of strong, smart support. He also recalled a particularly powerful example of that parental support and dedication.

“My mom would put on the goalie pads at times and let me shoot on her in the driveway,” remembered Matt. “Having now played at all levels from Mites to the NHL, I wish I had that time back when my mom was shooting tennis balls at me pretending she was Ron Duguay (New York Rangers) and I was Billy Smith (New York Islanders) playing for the Stanley Cup.”

To Matt, this is just another example of the game of hockey not only teaching many life lessons, but  also offering a very compelling reason for kids to play, no matter how far their career advances.

“The number one reason: it is FUN!,” said Matt.

To read the full TAKE 5 interview with Matt, visit PlayPositive.com. And come back next month for another exclusive TAKE 5 interview!

At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of sportsmanship and integrity shown by people every day. We created Play Positive™, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, as part of this belief to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display good sportsmanship. We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support winning on and off the ice.

©2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

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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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Titles to be contested at 10 sites nationwide

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