KALAMAZOO, MI - The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey
Association (KOHA) has been busy this offseason, and newly named Interim
Hockey Director, Matt Kakabeeke, has wasted no time in working on ways
to improve the association for the 2017/18 season.
"I grew up playing in KOHA, and coached my first KOHA team
twenty-five years ago. I am passionate about moving this program forward
on and off the ice, and am committed to providing the best landscape
for player development in our region," said Kakabeeke.
Since becoming a USA Hockey Model Association (2013/14
season), KOHA has committed to putting a talented Skills Team on the ice
with its players. KOHA is excited to announce its first addition to the
17/18 Skills staff - former Bronco Hockey player, Ben Miller ('13).
Miller has been on the ice helping with travel tryouts this spring and
is impressed with what he is seeing. "Being able to see the different
age groups, and the progression of improvement through the birth years
is proof that this model works. We did not have a model like the ADM; we
had dads who sometimes didn't know much about hockey development. I
like that coaches are trained in a different way now, and I think the
players benefit greatly down the road," said Miller.
"Ben brings hockey knowledge and youthful energy to the ice
that will benefit our players and coaches. He knows what it takes to
play at a high level, and appreciates the changing landscape in player
development. We are excited to have him joining us this season," said
The Rochester Hills, MI native who grew up playing baseball
and lacrosse too, loves that KOHA emphasizes the importance of kids
playing multiple sports and getting away from the rink during the
offseason. "Whether I was playing baseball, lacrosse or golf, getting
away from the rink was important. It got me excited for the next season.
I still worked on skills - like shooting and stick handling in my
driveway - but in an unstructured environment," he said.
Miller and his wife, Brittney (WMU Women's Soccer), decided
to stay in Kalamazoo after graduation "because of the great people and
the way of life" on this side of the state; also, said Miller, "less