KALAMAZOO, MI: Since becoming a USA Hockey Model Association (2013), the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) has committed to the American Development Model’s (ADM) ladders of development and the principles of long-term athlete development.

Encouraging kids to play multiple sports – especially at the younger ages – is something that KOHA supports as we develop well-rounded athletes, not just skilled hockey players.

One of KOHA’s 9 year-old players, Max Vandermolen, has had quite a memorable 2017 thus far. After a successful 16/17 season, he and his 10U hockey teammates were the Adray State Runners-Up in March, and then on Sunday, April 2nd, Max tied for second place in the Drive, Chip and Putt national finals at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia in the Boys 7-to-9 year-old division.

“Max has loved sports since he was a very small boy.  Playing golf and hockey brings him a lot of joy. Max says he likes to play more than one sport because he likes playing on his own for golf but really likes being part of a team for hockey. Golf is his first love but he loves hockey too,” said his parents Jim and Sarah Vandermolen.

When asked to talk about the benefits of Max being passionate about, and exceling at, more than one sport, and how the two complement each other, the Vandermolens pointed to some recurring themes in youth sports, “The biggest benefit so far is that Max doesn't have the burnout factor you see in a lot of one sport athletes even at this age. The multiple sports keeps him fresh and excited for the next sport of the season.” They went on to say, “Hockey and golf definitely compliment each other in a lot of ways. The main thing I see would be the hand eye coordination displayed in both sports. Hockey keeps his legs strong throughout the winter so in the summertime he uses his leg strength to generate a lot of power in his golf swing. Balance on his skates also helps with his balance in his golf swing. Mentally you need to be strong in both sports or in any sport to succeed. In golf you are alone playing against yourself and your thoughts. In hockey you have a team to think about. They balance each other out well.”
PC: Harry How/Getty Images Sport

KOHA’s Interim Hockey Director, Matt Kakabeeke (also USA Hockey’s Associate Coach in Chief & ADM Coordinator for the Michigan District, as well as being KOHA’s 2007 Head Coach), had this to say about Max, “I have had the opportunity to coach Max for multiple hockey seasons.  I had heard Max was an extraordinary golfer, but I was also excited because Max was not specializing in golf.  Max, while excelling at golf, was also playing hockey and baseball.  It was evident that Max was athletic, and transferring his skills and athletic movements to the rink.  I am confident his experience in hockey has improved his ability in golf, and vice versa.”

At KOHA, we believe giving them time away from the rink, allowing them to be kids, and allowing them to simply to have fun, garners far greater results (on the field/ice and off), decreases the chance of overuse injuries and burnout, and – perhaps most importantly - promotes a healthy lifestyle into adulthood.




The Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) and the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) once again partnered with the Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research (GLC) to host the 5th annual Youth Hockey Fights for Kids with Autism event to raise funds for autism treatment and build autism awareness in our community. 
The event was held on January 28, 2017 and proceeds from the event benefit Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research whose mission is to partner with individuals and families affected by autism to improve their quality of life through effective and efficient diagnosis, assessment, and behaviorally-based treatment.

On Monday, April 10, 2017, sponsor and partner representatives along with event coordinators event gathered at the GLC's Lawrence Autism Center to present the largest check to-date! Thank you to everyone that played a part by volunteering, donating, or participating in this year's event and help guarantee its success. Thank you to the event sponsors: DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, Wings West, SWMHSHL, KOHA, Kingscott, Miller Johnson and the Kalleward Group.

Pictured from left: Scott Schrum, ROI Chief Executive Officer, Greg Moore, Consumers Energy Community Affairs Manager, Se. Margaret O’Brien, Brian Bellware, KOHA Board President, Frank Noonan, SWMHSHL Commissioner and President, GLC Outpatient Services Director and Stephanie Dukesherer, KOHA Director of Marketing and Communications.



Did you know?

  • Autism is the fastest growing disability
  • 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism
  • Boys are nearly five times as likely than girls to have autism
  • A child can be diagnosed with autism as early as 18 months
  • The average diagnosis of autism is 4 years of age
  • Autism-related costs average $60,000 a year per family
  • Autism services cost U.S. citizens $232-262 billion annually



*If your child is just getting started with skating/hockey, please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling the office at 269-349-7825.

Below is a breakdown of the programs offered by KOHA and some of the differences between them. This organizational chart is to help you make an informed decision about where to sign your child up for the 2017/18 hockey season. We hope you'll find this helpful in making the best choice for child's hockey development. If you have any further questions regarding any of the programs offered by KOHA, please feel free to contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Please note: 2009 birth years (and younger) MUST play age appropriate in our 8U (or 6U) program(s); 2005 birth years MUST play age appropriate at the PeeWee level.


 Our K-Wings & Lady K-Wings Travel (A/AA) programs are TRYOUT teams that play in the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League. Typically these teams practice 3 times/week (including one skills night) with games on the weekends, and anywhere from 2-4 tournaments (plus Districts), depending on the age group. Teams travel primarily within the state of Michigan, but do sometimes travel for an out-of-state tournament, typically in Ohio, Indiana or Illinois.

Tryouts are held in the spring (May), and are open to anyone. The tryout schedule for the 2017/18 season are posted here. Some coaches typically hold bootcamps/team building events at the end of August, and regular practice begins after Labor Day.

TRAVEL A/AA - (Squirt, PeeWee, Bantam, JV)
Season length - September thru mid-March
Travel - Throughout Michigan and beyond
Experience - Competitive level athlete
League - LCAHL (Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League)
Practices - 3 per week (12 practice/month)
Games - 45-55. Detroit-based league. 4 tournaments
Sign up - Tryout sport, best players chosen from tryouts
Cost - Approx. $2,200-$2,800


Our Bronco House B programs are DRAFTED teams that play in the Adray League. Registration for this program, as required by Michigan Amateur Hockey Association rules, is open to ANYONE that wants to register. The drafts at each age division are monitored by a MAHA District 6 Chairperson assigned to help ensure our teams are balanced, and our drafts are conducted fairly. Our Bronco teams typically practice 3 times per week (including one skills night) with games on the weekends, as well as 2 tournaments, plus Districts and League tournaments. House B teams play primarily in West Michigan (including areas north of Grand Rapids), although may travel to Detroit or South Bend for a tournament. Evaluation skates are held at the end of August or beginning of September, and teams are DRAFTED generally in the beginning of September, with practices beginning right around the second week of September.

HOUSE B - (Squirt, PeeWee, Bantam)
Season length - September thru mid-March
Travel - West Michigan based league (Grand Rapids central)
Experience - Above average House C recreational player
League - ACHL (Adray Community Hockey League)
Practices - 3 per week (12 practices/month)
Games - 30-35. Mostly West Michigan. 2 tournaments
Sign up - Open sign-ups to all. Teams drafted.
Cost - Approx. $2,200-$2,500


The House C program is our "Weekend Warrior" program. Open registration, and teams play other teams within KOHA within the same age division. A mix of practices and games are held on Saturdays and Sundays only from mid-October through the beginning of March. The first 2-4 skates are treated as evaluation skates, and then a DRAFT is held at each age division. It is always our intent to create balanced teams so that every child has fun and enjoys coming to the rink every weekend.

HOUSE C - (Squirt, PeeWee, Bantam)
Season length - October thru mid-March
Travel - None, all local arenas
Experience - Recreational player
League - KOHA (Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association)
Practices - Saturday and Sunday only (1 hr each day, except game days)
Games - 14-18, Varies by division, all local
Sign up - Open sign-ups to all. Teams drafted.
Cost - Approx. $700



CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR TEAMS & PLAYERS ON A GREAT SEASON!! We are so proud of the development of our players throughout the entire program. Whether you and your skater/s just completed a grueling season of Travel (A/AA) or House B hockey, or if you were a Weekend Warrior in our 8U/10U/12U/14U House C program, we want to brag about your successes!

8U Mite State Tournament Red Division Team (2008/09):
8U Mite State Tournament White Division Team (2008/09):
MAHA MITE STATE SEMIFINALISTS (lost in a shootout) (3/4-3/5)
8U Mite State Tournament Blue Division Team (2008/09):

10U A (2007): Coach Matt Kakabeeke
Motown Cup Runner-Up (2/18-2/20)
LCAHL Patrick Division Semi-Finalists (3/18-3/19)

10U AA (2006): Coach Mark Ostrander
LCAHL Patrick Division CHAMPIONS (3/25-3/26)
Spartan Cup Runner-Up (3/10-3/12)
Irish Cup CHAMPIONS (3/17-3/19)

10U B BROWN (2006 & 2007): Coach Dave Whitehead
Adray West Conference Champions
Adray Gold Tournament Champions
2016/17 Overall season record: 30-6-6

10U B GOLD (2006 & 2007): Coach Dan Mehren
Spartan Cup CHAMPIONS (Dec. 2016)
Irish Cup CHAMPIONS (3/17-3/19)

Coach Phil Glennie

12U A (2005): Coach Curt Penny
LCAHL Smythe Division CHAMPIONS (3/18-3/19)
3rd Place (out of 10 teams) in Bay City Yeti Fall Showcase (Sept. 2016)
Thanksgiving Motown Cup CHAMPIONS (2016)

12U AA (2004): Coach Bart Kruzich
District 6 Semifinalist (2/3-2/5)
LCAHL Patrick Division Runner-Up/Finalist (3/11-3/12)
Irish Cup Finalist (3/17-3/19)

12U B BLACK (2004 & 2005):Coach Frank Barber
Cadillac Tournament Runner-Up (11/4-11/6)
Season record: 21-14-5

12U B BROWN (2004 & 2005): Coach Chris Talaga
Adray West Bronze Division CHAMPIONS

12U B GOLD (2004 & 2005): Coach Brent Dutcher
Adray West Red Conference Champions
Adray West Gold Division Semifinalists (2/12)
Irish Cup Runner-Up (12/2-12/4)
Clover Classic Runner-Up (3/17-3/19)

Coach Kevin Shaffer

14U A GOLD (2003): info coming

14U A SILVER (2003): Coach Mark Osinski
LCAHL Smythe Division Runner-Up/Finalist
Ann Arbor Big Thaw Tournament Semi-Finalist

14U AA (2002): info coming

14U LADY KWINGS: info coming

14U B (2002 & 2003): Coach Steve Jepson
From Manager Dan - The Bantam House "B" team does not have championships from tournaments or leagues that show results how our team played. The Boys and Coaches from this team demonstrated a sportsmanship, pride and devotion that the KOHA program should be proud of.
The team showed tremendous growth as a team and individual players improvement throughout the season is clearly defined by the end of the season.




KOHA is partnering with Wings West in an effort to grow the girls games. There will be some Girls Only skates in April - you can find them on the Wings Ice schedule listed as "Girls Play Too". They'll be like Sticks & Pucks ($6 per skater), but KOHA will have coaches out on the ice to help younger girls, and those new to our sport. We will likely utilize the cross-ice boards or dividers, and have stations as well as 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 mini games. If you know of a friend that has a daughter that would like to give hockey a try, or would like to get back on the ice - bring her out to one of these skates! All levels - all ages - ALL FUN!

No pre-registration - you'll sign up at the Ice Events office in the lower lobby of Wings West and pay them for each session.

4/14 - 6:15pm-7:15pm
4/17 - 7:35pm-8:35pm
4/20 - 6:00pm-7:00pm
4/25 - 7:35pm - 8:35pm
4/27 - 6:00pm-7:00pm

KOHA will have tryouts in May for the following 2017/18 Lady K-Wings teams: 
12U (2005 & 2006), 14U (2003 & 2004) and 16U (2001 & 2002)



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