Welcome to the 2014 Season: A Letter from AHAI President, John Dunne

AHAIWelcome to another exciting season of Youth and Girls’ Hockey in Illinois. I know it’s a very busy time of year as teams are forming and everyone is getting to know teammates, coaches and other parents. Again this season, the focus for AHAI is player safety, member conduct and information/ communications with the AHAI membership.

As we are well into the second year of the AHAI e-newsletter, SNAPSHOT, AHAI hopes it meets the needs of you, the members. The goal was to provide timely and accurate information to all of AHAI’s members. SNAPSHOT, along with AHAI’s social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+) are the main sources of communication with AHAI members. Additionally, we launched ahaienews.com in April of 2014 so that our members could search and access past articles from SNAPSHOT. Ahaienews.com also has many other relevant articles, as well as tips and advice from other trusted sources like USA Hockey. Please continue to send in your questions to “Ask AHAI” and your ideas and suggestions for articles you’d like to see in upcoming issues of SNAPSHOT.

The A Step aHead initiative is a free baseline testing program open to all AHAI players aged 13 to 18. This program is free due to the support and sponsorship of the Chicago Blackhawks, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Athletico and AHAI. Information on the A Step aHead program can be found on the AHAI website (www.ahai.org) or on ahaienews.com. Hockey Moms’ Night Out at the United Center on Tuesday, October 7th is presented by the A Step aHead program and is an excellent opportunity for Moms of AHAI players to get information on player safety, concussion signs/symptoms, post-injury treatment of concussions AND tour the Chicago Blackhawks locker room.

Again this season you will see officials calling aggressive penalty infractions. All officials have gone through educational seminars and have been instructed to call the aggressive, dangerous penalties. That being said, it is up to our coaches to coach the dangerous penalties out of the players. Coaches that attend USA Hockey/AHAI Coaching Education Clinics are also instructed on the prevention of dangerous play. Last but not least, players need to take responsibility for their actions. Remember penalties are only called after they happen.

This season all USA Hockey coaches will be required to complete the SafeSport education program. This program rolled out last season by USA Hockey is designed to create awareness of player safety off the ice. These include without limitation Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Screening, Locker Room Supervision and Hazing Policies, in addition to Codes of Conduct applicable to administrators, coaches, officials, parents, players and spectators.

To all AHAI members, players, coaches, officials, parents, spectators and administrators, be responsible for your actions. Pretend it’s your son or daughter that is officiating before you yell. Cursing and berating your players will not get you an NHL coaching job. Fighting on the ice, in the stands, or in the parking lot will only allow you to miss the game you love! Have respect for others who just want to enjoy watching or playing this great game. Also, all Club Administrators should make ethical decisions based on what is best for the whole as opposed to one or two players or families.

AHAI has great support from the Chicago Blackhawks and the Blackhawk Alumni. The Chicago Blackhawks offer finical assistance and host many events that support the AHAI membership. With Annie Camins, The Chicago Blackhawks Director of Youth Hockey, AHAI and the Blackhawks team up to host Game-Day Skates, Youth Coach, Player and Volunteer of the Month, Hockey Moms’ Night Out and the Illinois State High School Championship at the United Center. The Blackhawk Alumni present scholarships each season to deserving High School players who represent dedication to education, community service, family as well as playing hockey.

Although in September the season looks like a long haul, time goes very quickly. Before you know it there are Thanksgiving tournaments, Holiday tournaments, then we quickly move into league and State playoffs. This season it’s everyone’s responsibility to help make it a safe and enjoyable experience.


John Dunne, AHAI President

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