Welcome to another exciting season of Youth and Girls’ and High School 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/communication with the AHAI membership.
AHAI is very excited with the AHAI e-newsletter, SNAPSHOT. AHAI hopes it meets the needs of you, the members. The goal is to provide timely and accurate information to all of AHAI’s members. SNAPSHOT, along with AHAI’s social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, are the main sources of communication with AHAI members. Additionally, there is ahaienews.com that allows our members to search and access past articles from SNAPSHOT. Ahaienews.com also has many other relevant articles, 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 11 to 18. This program is free due to the support and sponsorship of the Chicago Blackhawks, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Athletico Physical Therapy and AHAI. Information on the A Step aHead program can be found on the AHAI website or on ahaienews.com.
Again this season the Officials are instructed to call 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 and 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.
Additionally, you will see younger, competent officials working games that might be considered higher level games. IHOA and AHAI support and administer an Officials Advanced Placement program. These selected officials receive additional monthly training and supervision to help advance their capabilities each time they hit the ice.
All USA Hockey Coaches and Officials are required to complete the SafeSport education program. This program rolled out 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 financial assistance and host many events that support the AHAI membership. With Annie Camins, Senior Director of Youth Hockey/Fan Development and Spencer Montgomery, Coordinator of Fan Development, 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.
I would also suggest that you check out some exciting Junior level hockey in the area. The Chicago Steel (Geneva) play in the top Junior hockey league in the country (USHL). This league includes the top USA Hockey National Development team and The Bloomington Thunder. Other Junior level teams in the area include the Tier II (NAHL) Springfield Jr. Blues, and Tier III Chicago Cougars (Leaf Center), Chicago Jr. Bulldogs (Romeoville), Peoria Mustangs and Decatur Blaze.
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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