KALAMAZOO, MI: The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) has added Kyle Bushee of the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) to the new Skills Team lineup. For Bushee, an Otsego native, this is a true homecoming - he began his hockey career with KOHA's Learn To Play program and progressed to travel (he played for the KOHA Stars which is now the K-Wings) before moving on to play AAA hockey.
Bushee - in the ECHL's Top 30 for all-time games played - signed on with the Kalamazoo Wings in August 2016, and spent the 16-17 ECHL season playing in front of his hometown fans for the first time since the 2004 and 2005 seasons as a member of the Western Michigan University Bronco Hockey team.
Having helped at KOHA's recent travel team tryouts as an evaluator from the stands (injury prevented him from going on the ice), Bushee was asked about differences now versus his KOHA days, "I honestly don't remember my own tryouts, but I LOVE the emphasis put on small area competitions. Seeing who can make plays in tight areas gets increasingly important as the players get bigger, stronger and faster." When asked what he's most looking forward to on the ice with KOHA for the 17/18 season, "I am so excited to be working the kids and seeing them improve. I have been fortunate to play for a lot of good coaches and hopefully, I can pass some of what I learned on to these kids," said Bushee.
"To have a hometown guy and former KOHA youth hockey player on the ice with our kids will be terrific. Kyle is living the dream that so many of these young players have, and the example he sets on and off the ice is a welcomed addition to our team," said KOHA's Interim Hockey Director, Matt Kakabeeke.
Bushee grew up playing baseball, soccer, cross-country and track and didn't specialize in hockey until he was fourteen years old. Summers were filled with "riding my bike, playing with my buddies and just being a kid. It's tremendously important to put the gear away, play other sports and have fun outside. Kids can find ways to improve hockey skills without going to the rink."
When asked if he had any advice for young players in today's game, Bushee said, "just enjoy it and don't get caught up in the things that don't matter because it all goes by really quick."
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