Dana Borges got a taste of pro hockey, playing for one season in France, but when he returned to the United States, he commenced his coaching career.
After serving as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Stonehill College, he moved onto Colgate University where he is currently a volunteer assistant coach for the men’s hockey team.
When he delved into coaching, it had a profound effect on him.
“Once I started focusing on a coaching career, I gravitated to the American Development Model in terms of understanding how important it is for player development,” said Borges, who was the youth hockey director for the Walpole (Massachusetts) Express during his time on Stonehill’s staff. “It’s important for the amount of touches and repetitions players get in game-like situations. That’s what enables them to develop at a high rate, so they can compete in a game scenario.”
While everybody regardless of age likes to win, Borges learned in recent years that failure isn’t the end of the world.
“A principle that I really like is, ‘Failure is okay,’” he said. “We need to allow our players to fail. Failure is essential to player growth.
“They need to be challenged in order to increase skill sets instead of becoming stagnant. The ADM challenges players, it allows them to fail and grow and overcome and continue at an upward rate instead of leveling out at a certain point.”
Even at Colgate, ADM principles are ingrained during the Raiders practices, proving that the model is age-specific and beneficial for all ages.
“Here at Colgate, we use the principles of the ADM at every practice,” said Borges, who served as the Massachusetts District coach-in-chief/director of ADM and coached at the 2016 USA Hockey National Select 17 Player Development Camp. “We use small-ice games to challenge our players physically and intellectually. It’s huge here in terms of what we’re trying to do to make our team stronger.
“As a staff we ask ourselves, ‘How is this drill competitive and chaotic in terms of how they have to sort things out and how they will develop their physical skills?’ They’re all tenants of the ADM and that’s how we design our drills.”
While some athletes expect success to be instantaneous, Borges is a firm believer in long-term development.
“We always talk about it being a process, and setting goals is important,” he said. “We want to set long-term goals. Then, we set daily objectives in terms of how we can achieve them. Each day, how do we set objectives so that players can achieve long-term goals and that they believe their development path is a long-term model?
“College hockey and the ADM, in terms of a long-term process, go hand in hand and this is great for players.”
While youngsters live in an era of specialization, Borges is a strong proponent of being a versatile athlete instead of allowing children to put all of their eggs in the proverbial one basket. Versatility served him well in multiple ways, not the least of which was when he was asked to transition from defense, which he played in youth hockey, to forward as a collegiate athlete and professional.
“I think it’s extremely important to develop well-rounded athletes,” he said. “The typical model is we would like them to be athletes growing up, and as they get older, develop them as hockey players.
“Sometimes we develop hockey players at young levels and see deficiencies like eye-hand coordination. Then we try to make them athletes after they were hockey players. That doesn’t work as well. We need to create great athletes and then hockey players. If we don’t, it’s going to lead to limited development down the road.”
Borges’ primary responsibility as USA Hockey’s ADM liaison in Massachusetts is communicating with coaches and certifying them at various levels.
“I host five coaching clinics a year,” he said. “The main thing is to spread the knowledge of what the ADM is trying to achieve and how we as coaches can get better every year.
“It’s also important to help coaches at the grassroots level understand how important they are and that the development of skill sets must begin at an early age. Now that I’m coaching at the college level, how do we as a coaching community get our players to be what they need to be when they’re 20 or 21 years old?"
Part and parcel of his coaching clinics is challenging coaches to let go of controlling everything from A to Z. Learning to embrace the chaos that can occur in a game will leave players better prepared for those scenarios.
“Let go of control; create more chaos in game-like situations,” Borges said. “If you can give more control to your players, you’ll see increased development.
“Challenge the players. We want our players to be highly-skilled and creative on the ice. If we always tell them what to do and how to do it, how will they become intelligent and creative players on the ice? That reverts back to challenging our coaches to let go of control and put players in situations where they can think on their own instead of having robots on the ice.”
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.