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ADM Keeps Greenwich Blues Moving

By Mike Scandura - Special to, 02/13/15, 10:00PM MST


Active approach helps Connecticut-based association add teams and players

Greenwich Blues Youth Hockey Association Director Brett Farson isn’t inclined to sit idly by during practices.

“This is my third year as hockey director and my first as mite director,” said Farson, of his affiliation with the Connecticut-based association. “I’m on the ice running all the ADM practices with the mite coaches.

“Far and away, the goal for our mite program is individual skill development and keeping the players active for 50 or more minutes out of the hour. Positional play and systems are taught at the older age levels in our program.”

The Blues have designed a program that aims to maximize the hockey skills of each participant, build self-esteem and teach good sportsmanship within the context of a competitive travel program.

Located in Fairfield County, the Blues are based out of Dorothy Hamill Rink in Greenwich but also serve Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Westport, Fairfield and Norwalk.

"We’re the primary public option to play travel hockey if you live in Greenwich and surrounding communities,” Farson said.

Besides spending time on the ice, Farson also spends time on the phone with USA Hockey American Development Model Regional Manager Roger Grillo. More often than not, they discuss ways to improve the association. As a result of those conversations, the GBYHA has increased its number of teams, and by extension, the number of kids who’ve registered.

“My first year we only had one mite team and two squirt teams,” Farson said. “Now, we have two mite teams and three squirt teams. We’ve also added a third peewee team [and have a bantam team].

“That’s exactly our goal, to get as many kids enjoying hockey as possible.”

All of the Blues’ coaches are non-parent coaches who’ve completed USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program.

“We require all the coaches to attend one coaching clinic per season,” Farson said. “I was pretty enthusiastic and jumped into it. When I jumped into it, the point was how can we make these clinics the best they can be?”

The clinics also helped coaches better explain the ADM benefits to parents.

“It takes a little getting used to for parents to watch a practice and not see traditional lines and drills,” Farson said. “Any such reservations fade very quickly as soon as they see their child in motion for almost a full hour and a sweaty mess at the end of practice.

“With the number of teams we have, the ADM is the key to having fun on the ice, and that’s what keeps players coming back for the next season — and spreading the word to attend our tryouts.”

In keeping players in motion, Farson says the Blues try to limit the time kids spend on one knee listening to a coach talk.

“Every coach naturally is going to want to teach the game of hockey,” he said. “But stopping practice and killing the momentum on the ice for maybe 10 minutes at a time can be disastrous in comparison with what you can achieve by just letting the players play.

“Keep things moving and provide constructive feedback only when players are taking time to rest. When kids are moving, they don’t even hear you.”

By staying active, the kids also focus on the reason they came to begin with.

“The curriculum is tailored exactly to what kids want and need to have fun in order to play the sport,” Farson said. “The best thing is getting the understanding that, like in Finland, they divide up the ice and there’s always something going on.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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It’s an off-season that continues to be full of changes, reactionary and planned, as all of us in the USA Hockey Officiating Department forge forward in the new normal. Our efforts are consistently focused on ensuring safety, fun and development for players, coaches and officials.

One issue that continues to arise is the abuse of officials and the effects it has on retention. To counter and help improve the environment, USA Hockey’s rules sub-committee has been focused and committed to solutions.

This sub-committee was established to define and recommend programs to confront this problem. As a result of this, a first step was taken at the recent Annual Congress to amend the Zero Tolerance Policy. Several proposals were made and adopted by the Board of Directors to constructively confront this problem. 

These changes strongly recommend things like game officials introducing themselves to the coach during warm-ups in order to start the communication process and set some guidelines for in-game communication.

The parents/spectators section was amended to clearly state the behavioral expectations of this group. Another strong recommendation added to this section was to establish a parent/spectator monitor by each local youth hockey team for all games. Ideally, this monitor will address and de-escalate parent/spectator behavior before it impacts the game and the officials have to stop play. 

Also added, a reminder to administrators that they are responsible for taking any appropriate disciplinary action towards parents/spectators that are removed from a game as a result of a violation of the Zero Tolerance Policy.

Navigating New Norms

As we all still grapple with the effects of the pandemic, the Officiating Program has been working to develop effective ways to fulfill our educational responsibilities when it comes to the annual registration process. To that end, the only process that provides educational value and a safe environment is with virtual seminars. A format and curriculum was developed and approved by the District RIC’s. This was distributed to all of the District RIC’s for implementation as they see fit.  Due to the many different and ever-changing restrictions around the country, if the situation arises where in-person seminars can be held then the District RIC can also schedule them as needed. The Virtual Seminar Program is the best solution for this season. As situations change, the Officials Section will revisit this program for all future seasons.


Every Tuesday, the Officiating Education Program will present an hour-long webinar on various topics of interest and importance to not only USA Hockey’s officials but the entire membership. These panel discussions will cover topics such as abuse and zero tolerance, communication, player safety, as well as items such as game management and positioning within the three recognized USA Hockey Officiating systems. Panelists will include some of the top officials in the country and other experts from the hockey world whose goal will be to inform, entertain and encourage the USA Hockey community to learn more about officiating.

Mentor Project

Getting officials from their first year to their third season is a key focus for the Officiating Education Program. Helping officials understand the basics of the craft and giving them a supportive resource is what the Mentor Project is all about. USA Hockey is helping local Officials Associations put together the framework where a mentor gets matched with a new official and works with them not only in their first month or second, but is a constant resource for the new official throughout their first couple of seasons. Learning about how to read the rule book, navigate the challenges of getting assignments and become a proficient official are all goals of the mentor project.   

Again, we hope everyone is safe and sane as we prepare for a different landscape of hockey – but we are excited to welcome it, and you, back to the game.

See you at the rink!