KOHA's mission is to provide every boy and girl in southwest Michigan the opportunity to enjoy and excel at the game of hockey. We know that our members (and potential members) are in various stages of their commitment to hockey. Hopefully the information below can help parents navigate what's offered and make the best hockey choices for their family.

How do I get my child started with hockey/skating?

Learn To Skate and Beginning Hockey questions answered here.

Where should my child skate once they've completed Beginning Hockey?
After completing Beginning Hockey, if your child is 8 or under, they would move into the age-appropriate (6U or 8U) program for the next season. If they're 9 or older, the best fit would likely be our House C program (see below) to continue to apply those skills learned throughout Beginning Hockey.

Our 6U and 8U programs are weekend only programs - ice times are generally in the mornings on Saturdays and Sundays from mid-October through mid-March. We have small rosters, run station-based practices, and have the KOHA Skills Team on the ice with these programs throughout the season. Our focus is on player development, and encourage all players to try the goalie position throughout their time in 8U. We typically have about 36-40 kids on the ice at a time in these programs for 60 minutes at a time. On game days, we set up the cross-ice boards, and we have refs for 8U game days (coaches run the 6U game days).

Below is a breakdown of the programs offered by KOHA after 8U 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: for 2017/18 season, 2009 birth years MUST play age appropriate in our 8U program; 2005 birth years MUST play age appropriate at the PeeWee level.


Our 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, and are open to anyone. The tryout schedule for the 2017/18 season will be posted in March, 2017. 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, 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



KOHA Membership,

As many of you know, for the past four seasons, Chris Brassard has served as KOHA’s Skating Skills Director. Brassard played professionally across the US and in Germany. While having worked as a hockey skills director/instructor for many years, he most recently has been involved in the Graeme Townshend National Hockey Development school delivering programs designed by NHL skating and skills coaches. Aside from working with KOHA as our Skating Skills Director, Brassard is also in his fourth season with the WMU Stallions (Club) as their head coach.

Brassard has led our House B and Travel Team Skills Nights this season with an intensive skating-development focus and initiative and has agreed to take a greater role that we believe will continue to positively impact our players and their experience this season.

Our ADM Director, David Killip, has stepped down, effective December 7, 2016, to focus on completing his Masters Degree at WMU while continuing his duties as the Player Development Director for the WMU Bronco Hockey Team. As a result, the KOHA Board of Directors has asked Brassard to finish the 16/17 season as KOHA’s Interim Hockey Director. He will assume many of the ADM Director duties, as well as serve as a resource and mentor for all of our coaches while continuing to help skating development on the ice. He will be working with all of our coaches and players at every level from Learn-to-Skate all the way through to JV and will continue to improve our skating curriculum and progression to increase the overall experience and development of our players.

Our Mission, Vision, and Values are outlined on our website on the About Us page, but to set the framework for our strategy, our Mission is to provide every boy and girl in southwest Michigan the opportunity to enjoy and excel at the game of hockey and our Vision is to be a regional hockey destination and a national leader in youth hockey.

We know you have choices when it comes to your youth hockey experience, and we appreciate you choosing KOHA to help your player continue to love our great game.


KOHA Board of Directors




Youth Hockey Fights for Kids with Autism

January 28, 2017 @ Wings West Ice Arena

The Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) and the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) are once again partnering with 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. 

Proceeds from the event will 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.

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


Your support will greatly impact children diagnosed with autism and their families.



GOLD LEVEL SPONSORS - Name/Logo on website and event/promotion announcements.


SILVER LEVEL SPONSORS - Name included on webpage & post-event thank you.


BRONZE LEVEL SPONSORS - Name included in post-event thank-you


All proceeds and sponsorship funds from the Youth Hockey Fights for Kids with Autism event will be used for outpatient services and program materials.
A child receiving one day of “outpatient” autism treatment typically costs $300 - $800. Some families do not have the autism benefit available through their insurance carrier (personal and too costly or through employer who may be self-funded) and are burdened with this expense. Other families may have a co-pay ranging from $20 - $60 each visit; their child may be seen five times a week: thus, incurring $100 - $300/week expense.
Through the Youth Hockey Fights for Kids with Autism event, we can help our local families pay for these needed services. Every donation makes a difference in the life of a child. Thank you for your continued support!

To discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact:
Frank Noonan                                                                            Stephanie Dukesherer
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it                                                                  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
KOHA, Director of Business Operations                                                        KOHA, Marketing & Communications Director

SWMHSHL Commissioner                                                                            Autism Event Committee Chairperson




KOHA Membership,

In the spring of 2012, the KOHA Board of Directors and staff leadership built the basis of a long-term, strategic plan. We established our Mission, Vision, and Values, and then spent time discussing the following three questions.

1.    Where are we at?
2.    Where do we want to go?
3.    How do we get there?

Since then, we have actively pursued several key deliverables to move us towards our vision. While we have made some progress, we have a lot of work ahead of us in all areas of our program. The purpose of this communication is to share the vision and strategy of KOHA. Additionally, we will be sharing more routine updates with you through our e-newsletter and other venues (like this page, direct email communications, etc.) to help keep you informed.

Our Mission, Vision, and Values are outlined on our website on the About Us page, but to set the framework for our strategy, our Mission is to provide every boy and girl in southwest Michigan the opportunity to enjoy and excel at the game of hockey and our Vision is to be a regional hockey destination and a national leader for youth hockey.

In order to fulfill our mission and vision, we must continue to enhance our programming while not neglecting what continues to be the foundation of our program, House C hockey. We are one of the few organizations that still offer House C hockey and we are committed to continuing our House C program. With that said, we are evaluating ways to enhance the experience, focus on development, and keep this program affordable for our families.
We’re also excited to continue the implementation of the American Development Model (ADM) throughout our 6U, 8U, House B and Tier II Travel programs. We believe this provides the best structure with which to develop the highest skilled athletes and retain our players throughout their youth hockey experience. Within that structure, we are focused on aligning our curriculum and teaching methodologies to create more effective skill development and progression.

And finally, in order for all of our hockey programs to succeed, we must get youngsters engaged and excited about skating, while offering the absolute best environment for every boy and girl to learn how to skate. We have invested in growing the awareness of our learn-to-skate program and in value-added partnerships with skating experts to develop and execute the best skating curriculum across all levels of our program.

We will continue to share more information about our strategic plan but hopefully you’ll find this initial, high-level overview a good start. We welcome our membership to attend the bi-monthly Board meetings and encourage you to continue to provide your feedback. Thank you for your participation in KOHA!

OUR NEXT BOARD MEETING: Dec. 19, 2016 - 6pm @ Wings West

Click here for information on KOHA's Board of Directors




Hockey Services came to KOHA with an award program specifically for our youngest and newest skaters. The idea is to focus not just on the successes on-ice, but to reward attitude and effort that translates into fantastic life lessons.

Who is Sammy Shooter?
Sammy is a youth hockey player who is like your child.  Sammy may not be the best player on the team but tries hard every week and is a team player. Sammy works hard and enjoys playing all sports but hockey is on top of the list!

Where did Sammy Come From
The Sammy Shooter initiative was created by Hockey Services to get all young hockey players more involved in sports and reward them for their efforts.  We recognized the absence of rewarding all players.  Most highly skilled players get hat tricks and play-makers but Sammy focuses on hard work, new skills, teamwork and sportsmanship. 

Sammy Shooter Objective
The Sammy Shooter Award Program is designed to recognize all young youth hockey players for their achievements.  It is not about goals and assists.  It is about milestones in a young hockey career.  For example, tying skates for the first time, helping a teammate do a crossover or just being a good kid.  Hockey Services will work with coaches to help recognize these achievements and award the players.

How Does It Work
Each week a player will be selected by the coach throughout the year and awarded a certificate of achievement.  This award can be brought into Hockey Services at 6958 West Main St, Kalamazoo MI for an additional prize and a gift certificate.  Also, if the parent approves, a picture will be taken and put on Facebook and the Sammy Shooter Webpage.

Parents Role
As a parent we ask that you encourage your child to try hard each and every week.  The goal of this award is to promote healthy behaviors on and off the ice and to encourage your child to display sportsmanship in life.

Coaches Role
This program does not work without the support of the coach.  Each week we encourage coaches to pick a different child for different reasons. No kid is the same and neither is the award.  We want to recognize all children by the end of each season.

Want to Know More?
Feel free to contact Hockey Services at any point with questions on this award.  Call us at 269-375-3313 or stop by our Wings West or West Main location.


Page 5 of 12