IT'S A HOMECOMING FOR KOHA'S NEWEST SKILLS TEAM ADDITION
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.
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.
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,
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."
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