With a new format for 2019, AHAI aimed to provide more value for affiliates
By Greg Bates, Special to AHAI
After years of run-of-the-mill meetings, this marked the third time the AHAI Association Leadership Conference (AALC) has used a different format. It was successful once again for all the club presidents, board members, registrars and hockey directors who attended.
“Everybody probably took away something different depending on what they were there looking for,” said Jim Clare, who is the AALC committee chairman and Illinois coach-in-chief. “We try to give them a little bit of everything.”
The AALC six-hour event was held at the Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca on June 1.
According to Clare, there was a great turnout with 170 registered attendees and roughly 30 folks from AHAI.
Clare was hoping those who attended took away a few key pieces of information.
“One of the key things is just a sense of community and networking and an ability to get in the same room with their peers and with the governing body of the state,” Clare said. “Just the ability to be able to network and talk to one another is one of the main reasons you do it. The second thing is to hopefully facilitate conversation between our affiliate leaders regarding key issues they experience throughout the year in a friendly setting.”
“We gave them the ability to see people that they normally don’t get to see from USA Hockey and from outside of our world,” Clare said. “We brought in a few guest speakers and four or five people from USA Hockey to talk about different subjects, whether it be checking or high-performance development or girls’ hockey.”
Michigan Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) President George Atkinson sat in on some of the breakout sessions and provided insight on struggles Michigan has dealt with over the years and how they have overcome those as an association.
During a session focused on youth hockey — which was led by Keri Zschach, who is the committee chair for AHAI’s Presidents’ Counsel — Atkinson was involved in an open discussion.
“We pretty much talked about what they do in Michigan, what we do here and it pretty much turned into an open conversation between everyone there,” said Zschach, who has been the club president for the last six years for the Joliet Jaguars.
Positive Coaching Alliance’s Joe Terrasi served as the keynote speaker and was very energetic, Clare said. He used the 75-minute window to hit on a number of different topics.
“I think he hit home with a lot of folks understanding how you hear constituents in a positive manner, how do you communicate with them, get your message across and listen to them as well and make sure you’re doing the right things within an organization,” Clare said.
There were two hour-long breakout sessions with four topics in each breakout session. The topics were: two breakout sessions for hockey directors; all things high school hockey; club communications and social media policies; youth hockey discussion; club administration: rules and regulations, by-laws and suspensions; officials; and building girls’ hockey programs.
Following the event every year, AHAI has attendees fill out questionnaires to gauge how the conference went.
“Overall, the feedback was very positive,” Zschach said. “Couple suggestions, which we are always looking for new ideas moving forward for next year.”
How can AHAI make the event even better for 2020?
“We’re always looking to improve the topics to make sure we are hitting what the membership wants to hear about,” Clare said. “Then from a guest speaker standpoint, you bring in somebody that is attractive to the membership and it always helps to boost attendance as well.”
Clare had a great time at the AALC and is looking forward to the conference in the new decade. He’s hoping the conference-goers can use what they learned and make their organizations better over the next year.
“I want to thank those that did come, and we just appreciate what they do and the effort that they put in to make their clubs better and to guide their clubs in the right direction,” Clare said. “We hope that this is just a small part of what we do and these conferences help add to their ability to run their clubs and their organizations and that we’re there to facilitate and help them do that.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.