In 2014, two local hockey moms (Julie Sorenson and Sarah Pernie) decided they wanted to start a group to give back to the Kalamazoo Community. The premise was simple, meet 4 times per year for a Hockey Moms Night Out where a charity benefits from each event and hockey moms get a social night out to catch up and meet other hockey moms. So far, the group has helped a local elementary school, the SPCA, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas, the group has adopted a local family in need, and has held food collection/drop-offs leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. There are two drop-offs left for Thanksgiving donations:

Sunday, Nov. 22 from 9am-noon. Stephanie will be collecting non-perishable food donations during the KOHA apparel sale at Wings West. Then, on Monday evening (11/23) from 5-7pm also at Wings West (Sarah's husband will be taking collections).

The food will be delivered to the family on Wednesday.

Julie and Sarah are also asking their group of hockey moms - and anyone else interested in helping - to keep this family of 7 in mind when doing your Black Friday and holiday shopping, as they are all in need of winter garments.

Boy 4 - likes superheroes, cars, bubbles. Size 5T, shoe size 11
Boy 8 - likes superheroes, football, bikes. Size 8, shoe size 2
Girl 11 - likes hair stuff, nail polish, fashion. Size XL, shoe size 8 (women's)
Girl 16 - likes makeup, hair stuff (crimper, straightener, etc.). Size XL, shoe size 9 (women's)
Girl 17 -likes mall giftcards, black nail polish. Size M, shoe size 9 (wants combat boots)
Dad - needs winter clothing size XL top, 38 pants; shoe size 12
Mom - needs winter clothing size 2XL top, XL pants; shoe size 8.5

If you'd like more information, please email Stephanie ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and she will get you in touch with Julie or Sarah. You can also post on the KOHA Facebook page, or search for their group on Facebook "Hockey Moms Give Back" and request to join.




As one of the largest associations in Michigan, it can sometimes be difficult to feel connected to our KOHA family, as a whole. We are fortunate to have a large member base, filled with kiddos that are not only developing on the ice by setting and conquering personal goals throughout each season, but in many cases, also doing great things off the ice as well.

Our values include the belief that hockey serves as an effective vehicle to develop character, dignity and self-esteem; therefore, as an association, we promote a positive culture from parents, coaches and staff to instill the values of integrity, hard work, determination, teamwork and the pursuit of excellence in all activities.

We are excited to launch the KOHA KIDS FEATURE, which highlights players demonstrating character, compassion and integrity away from the ice. Our first two features (Alex Hufford and Brandon Murray) are here, and here. Please check them out if you have not already done so - they certainly make KOHA's staff and board members quite proud to call them ours.

If you know someone in the KOHA community (past or present) that you'd like to see highlighted in an upcoming KOHA KIDS FEATURE, please contact Stephanie Dukesherer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



"I got this."

Anyone who knows Brandon Murray knows that's his mantra. Now 13, Brandon was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in January of 2010, when he was 10 years old and in the middle of his Squirt House C hockey season. "His diagnosis was very unexpected. We were told in the PICU that if we'd waited to take him to the ER, he would've ended up in a coma or worse," says Brandon's mother, Hope DeJong. "During his stay at the hospital he found strength and courage that I couldn't have found and he was only 10 years old," she says. "He became determined to learn everything he could about his new 'normal' and started using his catch phrase, 'I got this'. Prior to his diagnosis he started losing interest in hockey which was concerning as the boy loves hockey!"

Since his diagnosis, Brandon has worked very hard to raise funds for JDRF and is committed to finding a cure. He has coordinated local pizza fundraisers, has ridden his bike to raise funds and awareness, and is about to participate in the JDRF One Walk (formerly Walk to Cure Diabetes) on October 10, 2015. This will be his second walk, and to-date he has raised almost $3,000 in the walks alone to find a cure. Click here to donate to Brandon's fundraising page.

This summer, Brandon was one of 163 worldwide delegates - out of 1600 applicants - to attend JDRF Children's Congress, “to make a difference for others who have T1D and for the many who don’t understand it,” says Brandon. The children, all under the age of 18, gathered from all over to meet with legislators and storm Capitol Hill to advocate for funding required for education, treatment, prevention and cure of the disease. Brandon was 1 of 3 delegates from Michigan.  He met with Representative Upton, a member from Senator Peters office and provided information to Senator Stabenow's office. The trip to DC ended with the children attending a live congressional hearing to advocate and rally.

"Brandon has given a talk to a local Lions Club and is always taking the opportunity to educate others on the seriousness of Type 1. He's become an expert in a subject we hope to find a cure so no other families have to experience this life or death disease, " says DeJong. "Brandon remains an avid hockey player and advocate for T1D. He's very open about his auto-immune disease and loves to educate others. Brandon wants a cure in his lifetime and we know we are close to it. He depends on his insulin so if you see something hanging from his pocket, know that it is his insulin pump. He can have some pretty wicked blood sugar lows on and off the ice. His Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) became the newest addition to our family this summer and alerts us to highs and lows."

Brandon hopes to become a nurse and diabetes educator when he grows up. “I am most proud of being strong and not letting type 1 diabetes rule me," he says. "I want (everyone) to know that I won’t let this disease win.”

You've got this, Brandon. Your KOHA family is proud of you!

See you at the rink.




Dick Stack, founder of DICK'S Sporting Goods, believed that sports play a vital role in teaching our children fundamental values like a strong work ethic, teamwork and good sportsmanship. He also understood that supporting the organizations that make youth sports possible is the best way to promote those values. Today, that legacy continues.

KOHA's mission is to provide every boy and girl in southwest Michigan the opportunity to enjoy and excel at the game of hockey. With the support of corporate partners such as DICK'S Sporting Goods, our vision to become a regional hockey destination and a national leader for youth hockey truly is an attainable goal.

KOHA would like to thank DICK'S Sporting Goods (DSG) for its support as we kickoff the 2015/16 season. Aside from outfitting the KOHA Skills Team with new on and off-ice gear, DSG is a corporate sponsor for our brand new, kickoff Jamboree event for the 8U program!

DSG is also offering some great deals to KOHA members - simply click on the image above and show it to the cashier at checkout to take advantage of their convenient e-coupons.

Pictured L to R: David Killip, Travis Sabin, Chris Brassard, Brian Tulik, Matt Bland, Tom Askey
(Photo Credit: Casey Spring Photography)




One of the beloved traditions in hockey is the recognition that occurs within the locker room at the end of each game. Typically, a player who exemplifies a particular quality is given an award that is symbolic of that characteristic. For example, the Detroit Red Wings' player who 'digs in' in that game is awarded with a special shovel that the team created. That shovel is held by that player until the next game and then passed on to the next recipient. Some teams have very creative recognition such as a shovel, a hard hat or a special suit, and some simply use the game puck.

At KOHA, we have a fantastic team of paid staff members that manage most of the day-to-day operations; however, their work is complemented by many volunteers at every level. We wanted to create a simple and fun way to recognize those volunteers that go above and beyond in their role. Instead of a hard hat or game puck, we wanted to award something that was symbolic of the generous spirit that embodies the heart of a volunteer.

Introducing...the Pelican Award! For centuries, the pelican has served as a symbol of selfless generosity. In fact, Noble families frequently included the pelican in their family crests as an icon of devotion and generosity. This symbolism is rooted in the sacrificial care that pelican parents provide their young.

At each Board meeting, a volunteer will be recognized for above and beyond generosity of their time, talents or treasures. The volunteer will be selected by the previous month's recipient and will have the privilege of caring for the Pelican until the next Board meeting. We expect to get lots of pictures of the Pelican visiting the homes, workplaces and hockey destinations of the award recipient!

As a Board of Directors, we are grateful for each one of the many volunteers that give so generously of their time, talents and treasures. Your dedication and generosity is pivotal to making the youth hockey experience the best it can be for our kids - thank you!

Brian J. Bellware
KOHA Board President


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