Bob Fiedler looks at the Enfield Hockey Association as more than an outlet for kids to play hockey a couple nights each week in northern Connecticut.
“It’s not just a hockey organization,” the association’s vice president of operations said. “It’s also a hockey family.”
That fact is evidenced in the longevity local families have in the association.
“When my youngest son was playing, a family’s third son was on my team,” Fiedler said. “We have multiple kids in the association. We have parents who played in the EHA, and their kids are going through the same thing. Now that [former players] are adults, they’re also coaching. There’s a lot of loyalty to the organization.”
The loyalty that Fiedler refers to might best be exemplified by the late Wayne Vose.
Vose, a coach when the EHA was founded in 1970, was so respected that the EHA established the Wayne Vose Scholarship Award, which is presented to a student who played in the association and who plans to attend college.
“Wayne Vose is one of those generational EHA members,” Fiedler said. “I had the privilege of coaching his grandson, Thomas. Wayne was one of the original dads who coached a team back in the ‘70s.”
“Wayne and his wife never missed a game to see their grandchildren play. To win the Wayne Vose Memorial Scholarship is quite an honor. This is another example of how the organization gives back to people who have supported us.”
The EHA presents two other awards of note. One is the Enfield Hockey Scholarship. It’s given to a graduating senior who will be attending college in the fall and who has given their time back to the association over the years.
The other honor is the Craig Janney Award, which is named in honor of an EHA alumnus who played on the 1988 United States Olympic Hockey Team and was the Boston’s Bruins’ first-round pick in 1986. This award is presented to one skater in each travel division who has given maximum effort throughout the season and demonstrates premium sportsmanship both on and off the ice.
Longevity and loyalty have helped the EHA set a strong foundation. Good coaches and a commitment to USA Hockey’s American Development Model have helped the association continue to grow.
“One thing that makes our organization so good is the people involved,” Fiedler said. “They’re very dedicated. Every coach shows up with a practice plan. They’re on time. They run fast-paced practices. There isn’t any standing around and they do a lot of reps.”
“There’s a lot of instruction. If they see something wrong, they pull kids over to the side and address any skill gaps. They spend a lot of time working with the kids.”
According to Fiedler, Enfield’s coaches work extensively with their players when it comes to the ADM.
“We’re a firm supporter of the ADM,” he said. “We believe in its practice-to-game ratio and that it enables kids to get more touches [of the puck]. We don’t want kids to play a million games a season. We focus on skill development, conditioning and the physical demands of the sport. By that I mean skill development and techniques that are specific to each age group.”
“Another thing that makes us successful is older players give back to younger players. It gives younger kids something to look up to. A lot of my boys, who are midgets and bantams, help out with the learn-to-skate program. That’s our feeder program, which is going to bring kids back. This is the only sport where kids have to stand up and learn how to walk at the same time.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.