Instead of lecturing to parents about the value of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, St. Jude Knights Girls’ Program Director Jackie Wedster-Kooistra came up with a different idea.
“When we first started two or three years ago [with the ADM], some parents were so on board with what you say is best for their kids, they give you full range to develop their kids,” Wedster-Kooistra said.
“But I had two half-ice teams at one time. I had parents in the stands track how many touches, how many shots, how many passes and how much interaction there was. Then, I had them play full-ice games, and it literally was like night and day.”
Suffice it to say that cross-ice won over the parents in the in Crestwood, Illinois, association who had doubts about the ADM.
“You always get, ‘How are they going to learn what offside is?’” Wedster-Kooistra said. “That can be taught easily. Transition, puck possession and shooting technique must be taught before you get into offside.
“If they can’t skate, they’re not going to be offside.”
The St. Jude girls’ program is in its infancy, with just an 12U team to its name. But given the steps taken by Wedster-Kooistra, growth is on the horizon.
“We have a U12 team that competes at an extremely high level,” Wedster-Kooistra said. “I’ve been with the advanced girls for a couple of years trying to build the program.
“Next year we’ll be able to have a U10 and U12 team because the word is out. There’s a huge buzz around the south side.”
One thing Wedster-Kooistra did to help create “a huge buzz” was hold a Girls’ Hockey Day that included a visit from 2010 U.S. Olympian Lisa Chesson.
“We had such an amazing turnout at the Girls’ Hockey Day,” said Wedster-Kooistra, a former player at the University of New Hampshire and for age-group U.S. national teams. “The girls absolutely loved it. I tried to make it a fun environment and my friend, Lisa Chesson, brought her silver medal. The turnout was better than I thought it would be. Over 70 girls came out to promote the event.”
In addition to the 12U girls’ team, St. Jude also has learn-to-skate and learn-to-play programs to introduce younger players to the game. The learn-to-skate program is open to girls who are at least 2 years old, but most are between 3 and 8.
“The buzz is unreal,” Wedster-Kooistra said. “I came to a learn-to-skate session and was so surprised at the number of new girls who joined. There are 12 new girls in learn-to-skate alone who’re trying to get ready for next season.
“They’re all joining together and embracing it. We have pink helmets and jerseys. We participate in the Stick it to Cancer Tournament every year in Minnesota. Last year we had special jerseys made with the breast cancer awareness symbol on them.”
Once girls graduate from learn to skate, they move onto the learn-to-play program, where they can remain until they’re 10 years old. At that stage, girls are introduced to the ADM.
“I follow the ADM program to a T,” Wedster-Kooistra said. “It’s wonderful. It’s revolutionary. It’s going to change hockey.”
In Wedster-Kooistra’s opinion, the fact St. Jude has embraced the ADM has made it easier not only to retain girls but also to recruit new ones to join.
“I think wholeheartedly that’s the case,” she said. “I’ve seen so many new faces from Girls’ Hockey Day alone. They all ask me, ‘Where do I go from here?’ My answer is, ‘We’re developing here first, and then you’re going to be my all-stars.’
“We really want to develop our girls’ program. It’s a matter of giving them the tools to succeed.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Even with almost 50 years of involvement in hockey, you can’t plan for the current state of the world and the impact coronavirus has had on our game. I think it is safe to say that nothing prepares you for the changes that have taken place in our daily lives and the uncertainty of when things might return to normal. Or in this case, what will become the new “normal.”
Our expertise is hockey, so what we’ll address in this piece: the impact of the global pandemic on our game and how likely it will affect our game in the immediate future.
USA Hockey continues to post information on COVID-19 on the main website. These updates keep our membership informed of specific programs and the changing safety recommendations that will be in place when hockey returns. Be sure to check back regularly for updates and other hockey information.
On the officiating front, much of what we are able to do from a program standpoint is connected to player events like national tournaments and player development camps. As you know, the national tournaments (along with the March, April and May IIHF World Championship events) were cancelled. The Officiating Program then canceled our two instructor training programs that were planned for late April and early May in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
At this time, details for any potential summer development camps are still being determined. On the player side, several camps we are connected to were cancelled, and the few camps that are still in planning have been dramatically downsized. The Officiating Program continues to monitor the decisions made for players and will take advantage of any opportunity we have to salvage our summer camp program and maximize participation.
The good news is, we are confident we will have a 2020-21 season. All indications show no reason to delay registration. It will open as scheduled on or around May 26, followed by the open book exams and online seminar curriculum on June 1.
SafeSport Training (required for anyone born in the year 2003 or earlier) and background screening (learn about the new national level screening program in the Q & A section) will also be available to complete at that time. If COVID-19 still has things slowed down in early June, it would be an ideal time to get these requirements completed.
The biggest unknown will be the timing in which we will be able to conduct seminars. The vast majority of rinks are currently closed, and many of them took this opportunity to remove ice to save operating costs and do maintenance. There is now doubt they will be prepared to quickly ramp up once they are allowed to do so, but as with most everything right now, the timing is uncertain. As a result, some of the earlier seminars may be pushed back a few weeks. The District Referees-in-Chief will secure ice times and facilities so we can provide seminar dates and locations as quickly as possible. We are also encouraging our instructors to think outside the box by providing some weeknight seminar options, and to look at other ways to best meet the needs of our members.
The Advanced Officiating Symposium, scheduled for Providence, R.I. in late July, is still going to plan. We will continue to monitor the situation, including local restrictions and travel advisories in the coming weeks, and we will announce any changes in advance to allow for alterations to travel arrangements. Click here for up-to-date information or to reserve your seat at the 2020 Advanced Officiating Symposium.
These are difficult times for everyone, and although our hockey family is important to us, it is a small fraction of the big picture that is impacting our daily lives. To quote Andy Dufresne in his letter for Red that he left under the big oak tree in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We hope the coronavirus is conquered with minimal loss of lives and a return to a prosperous normal as soon as possible. We hope your passion for the game of hockey will only grow as a result of its absence. We hope we are back on the ice in the coming months and that the 2020-21 season will be our best yet.
Thank you for your continued support of USA Hockey and don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to make your hockey experience a better one. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be prepared to be back on the ice soon.
In order to comply with new requirements from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), USA Hockey will be implementing a national level background screening program. This program will replace all USAH Affiliate coordinated background screen programs.
Why must officials be screened?
Per USA Hockey and USOPC policy, all coaches, officials, board members, employees, volunteers, billets and anyone else who will have regular contact with, or authority over, minor athletes are required to submit a background screen before any contact with minor athletes.
Who is required to be screened?
Officials who are 18 years-old (or older) prior to June 1 of the current year.
Any official, 18 years-old (or older) without a completed valid background screen (national or USAH Affiliate coordinated) after April 1, 2019.
All national background screens are valid for two seasons, and starting on June 1, 2020 a national background screen must be completed and in good standing before receiving an officiating card and crest.
What are the timelines for launching the national background screen program?
Beginning on April 1, 2020, background screening will be conducted by our national background screen vendor, National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI), and information on background screening will be included following your registration.
As of March 22, 2020, applicants will no longer be able to submit new USA Hockey background screens through USAH Affiliate vendors, and will not be able to submit new screens through NCSI until April 1, 2020.
If you were screened after April 1, 2019 for the 2019-20 season, your screen is valid for the 2020-21 season, and you will not need to be screened under the new system until prior to the 2021-22 season. If your most recent screen is from prior to April 1, 2019, you will need to be screened under the new system, after April 1, 2020, in order to participate in the upcoming season.
All new screens submitted through the new NCSI national screening program after April 1, 2020 will be valid for two seasons. For example, a screen submitted and approved on April 15, 2020 will be valid through the end of the 2021-22 season, which is August 31, 2022.
How can members complete their required background screen?
A link to submit for screening will be included in your membership registration confirmation email and posted in the drop-down menu under the OFFICIALS tab at USAHockey.com.
Background screens through NCSI under the national program will cost $30 for all domestic screens. For international screens (members who have lived outside of the U.S. for six consecutive months in any one county during the past 7 years) the flat rate fee is $150. If that country is solely Canada, the flat rate fee is $75.
Where can members go with questions about the national background screen program?
Please refer to the USA Hockey Background Screen webpage at USAHockey.com.
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