Greetings KOHA Families and Friends!

The past month or so has been amazing on the local hockey landscape!

In August, we hosted a meeting for the Travel, House B, and Skill Development Team coaches to address the 2017/18 Coaching
Expectations and Initiatives:

--Skill Development
--Developing hockey sense utilizing Small Area Games
--Introducing/educating players & coaches on body contact/checking
--Goaltending recruitment, development, training
--Off-ice training in conjunction with Athletic Mentors

    The VIP room at Old Burdick's was at capacity as we discussed how these initiatives, with support of the skill development coaches will drive KOHA to become a regional hockey destination and a national leader for youth hockey.

    On August 28, 2017, USA Hockey ADM Regional Manager Bob Mancini and USA Hockey
    ADM Manager for Youth Goaltending Programs Phil Osaer conducted our annual KOHA Coaches College focusing on age appropriate training/coaching, body contact/confidence and youth goaltending. Again, the response was overwhelming as
    Coaches College Classroom
     coaches packed the class room at Wings West and took to the ice for more technical education/instruction.

    The following day over 100 KOHA players from 8U, 10-12U, and 14U took to the ice for "FREE" body contact/confidence clinics lead by Coach Mancini and the KOHA Skill Development Team. 
    In addition, the 10-12U and 14U were also involved in off-ice training to enhance their body contact abilities and build confidence in giving/receiving bumps. Coach Mancini and I enthusiastically agreed this was one of the best body contact clinics either of us had conducted! Check out the KOHA Facebook & Twitter pages or Bob's Twitter @bobusahockey for some great video!
    In September, the Travel and House B seasons opened with practice and evaluation skates. It has been great to get back on the ice and see how much each player has grown and developed over the summer. Speaking of physical growth, Athletic Mentors opened in Wings West, which will help our players develop physical literacy and promote additional development. Undoubtedly, with the amazing skill development staff taking care of the on-ice training and Athletic Mentors providing the off-ice guidance, we are focused on our Mission, "To provide every boy and girl in southwest Michigan the opportunity to enjoy and excel at the game of hockey."

    Over the past weekend, approximately 150 coaches attended either the Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 or Level 4 USA Hockey Coaching Education Program clinics at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. The feedback wastremendously positive! The goaltending demonstration on Saturday morning conducted by Coach Osaer at Wings West was amazing. Others raved about the presentations of WMU Coach Andy Murray or Hockey Manitoba's Bob Caldwell.

    My favorite was offered by Jukka Lamminaho, Coaching Education Manager of 
    the Finnish Ice Hockey Association (FIHA) and their 16U National Coach. Jukka reinforced our development model within KOHA and maintained we are on the cusp of doing some great things locally. Jukka was on the ice with the 10U and 12U travel teams, so he saw firsthand our players and coaches. FIHA is also a world leader in player and coaching development, so his endorsement was important to me, and should be to you as well.

    House B and Travel will soon conclude three weeks of body contact/confidence skill practices. Coaches have remarked the practices have been beneficial and they have observed utilization of the skills in their recent games. The Skill Development practices will soon transition to skating fundamentals, both technical and the A, B, C's (agility, balance, and coordination). I am excited to announce Coach Mancini will return on October 2, 2017, at 6PM to provide classroom instruction and explanation to how our practices will be conducted to our House B and Travel coaches. Much like the game of hockey has evolved, so has the instruction/teaching/coaching of skating. With that said, practices will look different, or similar depending on your views of development. I am excited about where we are taking skating fundamentals and instruction, and your Skill Development Team coaches (remember three are still playing professionally) are too! Feel free to come to the demonstration practice at 6:45PM that night at Wings West to watch our Travel and House B coaches doing one of the skating practice plans.

    I almost forgot to mention, that Tom Newton has agreed to spend some time this winter working with our club. Coach Newton had spent the previous 27 seasons has the assistant coach at Michigan State University, and the eight years prior as an assistant coach at Western Michigan University. He has over 700 NCAA victories on his resume, including three CCHA regular-season championships, four CCHA Tournament championships, 14 teams which advanced to the NCAA Tournament, four Frozen Fours, and the 2007 NCAA title team. Coach Newton has helped bring 13 All-America selections and eight Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists to the MSU campus. He has also coached over 30 Spartans that have gone on to play in the National Hockey League. Look for Coach Newton on October 2 at the coaches meeting and on the ice that night!

    My note is a little longer than usual, but there are just so many great things going on, both on and off the ice!

    See you around the rink....

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