Every year USA Hockey holds a mid-winter meeting in January. Representatives from all across the country attend to represent their home states or districts. The USA Hockey winter meeting is 3 days of meetings and is designed to be a shortened version of the USA Hockey Annual Congress held in June. Business at the winter meeting includes the USA Hockey Board of Directors meeting, various committee meetings (Coaching, High School, Officials, Junior Hockey and Youth Councils) and District meetings. Illinois is in the Central District along with Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.
The main topic of conversation at this year’s meeting was best practices for providing the many USA Hockey volunteers with the support needed for the day-to-day operation of the players on the ice. I believe there is a very strong effort being put forth by USA Hockey to help local affiliates and organizations continue the work they do at the grass roots level. I see this as a very positive move by USA Hockey’s leadership and believe we (AHAI and its members) will see the benefits of this movement in the very near future.
Another topic being discussed and addressed is the mandatory requirements for volunteers and officials. Is there too much being asked of the volunteers? It’s a great question, but if you consider how important the mandatory requirements are – coaching and officiating education, background screening, SafeSport awareness – it would be difficult choose a requirement to change or delete. The discussion is ongoing.
With regard to AHAI 8U. It was announced that AHAI will be granted an extension of the current AHAI 8U exception for the 2015-16 season. That means no changes to the AHAI Mite program for next season. It was also reinforced that there are no planned changes at the Squirt/10U level in the near future. Also, through the financial support of USA Hockey and AHAI, all clubs participating in the NIHL 8U program were provided with electronic scoreboards for their cross-ice games and events; next will be the availability of mid-size nets for training and game use. These nets are designed to be size appropriate for 8U players and assist in making the cross-ice games competitive as well as being great training tools for all age players.
Those are some of the highlights of the winter meeting. Again, the movement of USA Hockey to emphasize the importance of the grass roots efforts was a major discussion topic at this meeting. Thank you for being part of USA Hockey and AHAI. The effort and support of coaches, officials, scorekeepers, managers, administrators, rink operators, and parents all help shape the environment for the players. The efforts and contributions of all these groups go to the development of the players and have a large impact on Illinois hockey.
John Dunne, President
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