Jablonic is the Regional Manager for USA Hockey’s American Development Model
By Greg Bates, Special to AHAI
Dan Jablonic isn’t going to sit back and watch from a distance, he’s a hands-on instructor. He strives to achieve positive results.
So, when the new USA Hockey ADM Regional Manager was on the ice working with coaches and hockey players at Franklin Park in September, parents, coaches and players got a taste of what’s to come for the future.
“I saw his energy, his excitement on the ice,” AHAI American Development Model (ADM) Coordinator Jim Clare said. “That translates to the other coaches and the kids.”
As a regional manager, Jablonic serves the entire state of Illinois. It’s his job to help AHAI and its associations throughout the state utilize USA Hockey’s American Development Model to make sure every hockey player has the same opportunity to succeed.
Jablonic has a great track record of success using ADM. Prior to starting in his role with USA Hockey in March, Jablonic spent the previous seven years as the hockey director at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia. He ran the in-house Rooftop program and Caps Academy as well as the Washington Little Caps youth hockey program.
When Jablonic began with the program, it was a recreational learn-to-play and learn-to-skate league. He transformed it into ADM-recommended on- and off-ice programming. During his time with the Caps, numbers jumped to 450 members and success followed.
“In the seven years I was there you could see the players develop and the numbers grow,” said Jablonic, who played Division I college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Jablonic’s time with the Capitals youth programs paired with his five years of coaching in a Sweden elite league that gave him plenty of familiarity with the ADM approach.
“A lot of the principles of the ADM are based on long-term athlete development, so we studied the Swedish, the Finnish, all those models,” Jablonic said. “When I was over [in Sweden, USA Hockey] came over and did a couple symposiums that I was a part of, so that’s what really intrigued me with the position with the Capitals is that I got to implement the ADM.”
In his role as a USA Hockey regional manager, Jablonic is getting out and visiting associations around Illinois on a weekly basis. He knows it’s important to make his presence felt and let parents and players know USA Hockey is behind them for any of their hockey needs.
“Having the developmental background not only with USA Hockey and in Europe and seeing what these other countries are doing, my biggest goal is I want to be a resource for Illinois,” Jablonic said. “If parents have questions, they can contact their hockey directors and we can come in and work with them, with not only players but coaches and parents. We can help them understand, ‘Hey, what should a practice plan look like for an 10-year-old? What kind of experience should I have?’”
Jablonic has been taking part in AHAI’s Coaching Education Program (CEP) clinics on weekends and meeting with association hockey directors and presidents to teach them more about ADM.
“Even though the ADM’s been around for 10 years, I’m finding that there’s some people that don’t necessarily know about all the benefits of the ADM,” Jablonic said. “So, we’re excited to kind of share those ideas with association presidents and hockey directors and get out on the ice and work with the players and coaches.”
Clare is hoping parents, coaches and players realize they have a great resource in Jablonic and utilize all he has to offer.
“At the association level, just helping the coaches and clubs run a practice so parents can see their kids moving, getting a lot of puck touches, they’re not standing in long lines,” Clare said. “Dan can help those coaches and clubs so practice times are more efficient. Along with coaches, when he goes to the rink he can talk to the parents. At the rink we were at two weeks ago, we had two parent meetings after each practice so Dan could talk to them about what they just watched and help them understand all the kids have their own paths. They all develop differently, you’ve got to provide for them the opportunity to do that.”
Clare stressed Jablonic brings an age-appropriate training mentality to the associations.
“If you’ve got a 10-year-old, you don’t want to practice like he’s 15,” Clare said. “If you’ve got an 18-year-old, you don’t want to practice like he’s 10. You do it age appropriately. At every level you keep them moving and you build development.”
Jablonic and Clare are going to continue working closely together to educate the hockey community. Jablonic knows AHAI and associations around Illinois are on the right track in developing youth hockey players. He plans to continue that positive step forward.
“You look at the success they’re having at all Tier I levels in Illinois. Boys and girls teams are really getting recognized around the country because they’re doing a lot of great things as far as coaching and putting a lot of emphasis on age-appropriate training for those players, give them all the resources that they can,” Jablonic said. “So, I think it’s great at the highest levels. It’s like anything else, I think we can’t be complacent even though there’s a lot of numbers in Illinois. We have to make sure that every player is getting developed to the best of their ability.
“The end goal is really to make sure that we can help foster that great experience, the passion for the game and just the pure enjoyment so they’re coming back to the rink with a smile on their face. Learning those life skills because that’s what hockey’s all about.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.