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Camillus Hockey a Home Team in Every Sense

By Mike Scandura - Special to USAHockey.com, 07/27/16, 2:15PM MDT

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Everyone plays a part in growing the town’s youth hockey association

You could call Camillus, New York, a hockey community. But they take the community part just as seriously as the hockey part.

“The number of teams has remained the same because we’re a community-based organization, so we don’t allow anybody outside our town to come into the organization,” said President Joe Snyder of the Camillus Youth Hockey Association, which formed in 1971 and is based in the West Genesee School District. “Our focus is on our community and to develop our hockey players to play at the high school level. We’re community-based so we’re here for the community to develop players from a recreational and competitive standpoint and to play at the high school level.

“Some of our kids participate at a recreational level, but for many, their goal is to play for the West Genesee [High School] Wildcats. Absolutely a fair number of our boys have gone on to play for the high school team.”

The Cougars’ affiliation with the West Genesee High School coaches has been invaluable. Every Monday night, the coaches help conduct clinics and instructional practices for all levels.

“Our high school coaches will come out and run practices that are open to Snowbelt League and travel players,” said Snyder, who played in the CYHA and also for the town’s high school. “It’s run by the West Genesee High head coach [Frank Colabufo] and his assistants, but it’s for the CYHA players.

“The clinics are beneficial and we get a great turnout for them. They’re educational and fun and teach skills including puck handling and skating. It’s something that allows players to get additional ice time and coaching outside of the organization. It’s very well-received.”

Equally as important is the CYHA’s emphasis on intangibles like promoting respect, discipline, self-esteem and the value in having fun at all levels.

“We push that through our coaches to promote a positive environment,” Snyder said. “We strive for positive interaction between everyone in the organization from coaches to teams to players.

“It goes hand in hand. We promote having respect for everyone. It’s something that’s pushed from the top down, from the board to the coaches to the players and parents. It’s something we stress with our parents in terms of the code of conduct. It’s something that is communicated on a regular basis from our parents to our coaches to our players.”

With the exception of “tykes” (i.e., first-year players) and three 8U teams, two 12U teams, one 14U team and two 18U teams play in the appropriately-named Snowbelt Hockey League.

In addition, the 10U, 12U and 14U teams are travel teams.

At all levels, teams have benefitted from USA Hockey’s American Development Model. It has become an important part of the association’s educational philosophy.

“It’s well-received by the players, one reason being they get a lot of repetitions,” Snyder said. “It provides a positive experience.

“It’s important to communicate and inform, especially with people who are new to the program. We do a lot of communicating and informing about the ADM in our organization. As people learn more, they embrace and understand the benefits of the ADM.”

Many parents then opt to join the CYHA’s Parents Organization, which plays a vital role in the association.

“The parents organization has its own board of directors,” Snyder said. “They support the CYHA and the [visiting] teams when we’re hosting Snowbelt Tournament jamborees. This is a resource to help those teams. When we host tournaments, they’re involved in holding raffles. They’re involved in food setup and help organize the tournament.

“They are a resource for a [CYHA] team that wants to raise money. If we didn’t have that board, we would have to help teams. They take on a responsibility that the board doesn’t have to focus on. They are a key to our success.”

In that vein, the CYHA Parents Organization plays a major role in the annual Cougar Thanksgiving Day Challenge, which is held for 12U, 10U and 14U teams.

“The reason it’s been around for so long is that teams always are competitive,” Snyder said. “We put on one of the better tournaments in the area. We provide food. It’s well-organized and our people are committed to making teams feel like they’re at home.

“We have a lot of teams that return because of the hospitality we provide and how well the tournament is run.”

Given Snyder’s involvement with the CYHA as a player, a man who coached for eight years and who became a board member several years ago, he brings a relatively unique perspective to the association.

“My satisfaction is seeing development of players and that they’re growing and having success,” he said. “It’s seeing them transition from young players to adults and seeing their development as hockey players.

“It’s being able to teach the game to young people and getting them excited about ice hockey.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc. 

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By USA Hockey 07/15/2022, 1:00pm MDT

Q-and-A with USA Hockey’s Director of Officiating Education Program Matt Leaf

The Referee Section of USA Hockey recently met during Annual Congress and discussed a variety of issues that will have an impact in the success of the officiating program. Many of those issues relate back to the successful completion of the registration requirements and the retention of officials.

Streamlining the registration process and maximizing the efficiency of our educational platforms are always a priority and the following Q-and-A will highlight those changes that every official should be aware of heading into the new season.

USA Hockey: What is the biggest change made to the registration requirements for this season?

Matt Leaf: With more and more seminars transitioning to a virtual format, the Referees-in-Chief (RIC) have determined that there really is no need for the closed book exams. So, level 2, 3 and 4 officials this season will no longer be required to submit a closed book (or modified online closed book exam) upon completion of the seminar requirement. Instead, the open book exams have been expanded to 75 questions for level 2 and 100 questions each for level 3 and level 4.

The RICs acknowledged that the purpose of the exams has always been as a means to encourage rule knowledge, so more effort was made to put together open book exam questions that will encourage the officials to open the Rules/Casebook in an effort to not only learn the rule, but more importantly, understand the spirit and intent of the rule.

USAH: Are there any other changes to the exam process

ML: The only other change to the exams deal with those who do not pass the original exam. Level 2, 3 and 4 officials will now be able to complete their retake exam 24 hours after failing their original exam. Level 1 officials will still need to wait seven days as we want them to slow down and take some time reviewing the rules so they can gain a better understanding and improve their chances for success on the ice.

USAH: What changes, if any, have been made to the seminars? Are all officials still required to attend a seminar each season?

ML: Yes, except for Tenured Officials, all officials are required to attend a seminar for the level that they apply for each season. So, a Level 1 official must attend a Level 1 seminar, Level 2 attends a Level 2 and then Level 3 and 4 seminars will be combined as one seminar in many cases.

Level 1 officials are strongly encouraged to attend a seminar in their own area and most areas will mainly conduct in-person Level 1 seminars. Although there will be some hybrid Level 1 seminars with both a virtual and in-person component, the key here is that every Level 1 official is required to attend a Level 1 seminar ice session. This may require some additional coordination of scheduling for these new officials, but the reality is this on-ice practice is so critical to any future success they may have on the ice that the RICs feel it is critical that the ice session is part of their educational experience.

Level 2 seminars will also include an on-ice component that Level 2 officials need to be aware of when they plan their seminar attendance. The vast majority of Level 3 and Level 4 seminars will be virtual and officials are encouraged to attend a seminar at a date and time that is convenient for them.

USAH: Have there been any changes to the curriculum for the various levels?

ML: The curriculum for each level was standardized prior to last season and is something that will continue to be updated on an annual basis. The specific presentations, along with the video examples, have all been developed in a manner that provides valuable information specific to each level with new presentations and updated video examples being used to keep things fresh and relevant. In addition, the seminar curriculum has been coordinated with the online modules to minimize duplication and to diversify the required education for each level.

USAH: How about SafeSport and Screening – any changes to those requirements?

ML: The background screening process will remain the same as USA Hockey is required to conduct a national screen every two years on any official who is 18 years of age as of June 1 of the registration year (in this case 2022). Both the background screen and the SafeSport training are mandated by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) per the Amateur Sports Act initiated by Congress.

For SafeSport, any official who was born in 2005, or earlier, is required to complete SafeSport training on a yearly basis. This may include the full training or refresher training that is managed by the US Center for SafeSport. Although it will not have an impact on registration for this season, there was a change in SafeSport that has been made where the training will only be valid for a 12-month period of time and it not consistent with an overlapping season. This will be addressed during the summer of 2023.

USAH: Are there any other changes or areas of emphasis that you want officials to be aware of?

ML: A significant part of the discussions that took place with the RICs focused on the importance mentoring plays in the success and, ultimately, the retention of brand-new officials. USA Hockey loses 50% of our new officials every season and improving that retention rate by just 15% will result in 1,000 additional experienced officials joining our ranks each year. We need to do a better job of bringing new officials into the fold and then supporting them in ways that sets them up for a successful and rewarding experience. The RICs feel strongly the best way to positively impact this issue is through mentoring.

Experienced officials should expect to receive information later this summer that outlines expectations of a formal Mentor Program and asking them to volunteer their time and expertise to become involved as a mentor. Once we have established a pool of officials that are willing to contribute in this way to the next generation of officials, they will be assigned a group of new officials they can reach out to and guide them through the registration process, seminar attendance, assistance in completing the open book exam and reaching out to prospective assignors when the time has come they are ready to work games. Once they have stepped on the ice, that mentor can continue to be a valuable resource for the new official and provide the necessary support needed to be successful. We will also be encouraging local clubs, assignors and officials’ groups to implement Shadow Programs that will complement the Mentor Program and positively enhance the officials’ experience even more.

With everyone working together towards a common goal, USA Hockey can become a leader in addressing the officiating crisis while providing a positive experience to our next generation of officials.

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