News

News

2017 SUMMER CAMPS & CLINICS



WMU BRONCO HOCKEY CAMPS ARE BACK for Summer 2017!

You can check out their camp offerings on their website by clicking here!

AUGUST 7-11

@ LAWSON ICE ARENA (WMU)

 

Make sure you check out the ice schedule (on the Wings Event Center website) for weekday Sticks & Pucks opportunities at Wings West!

 

ECHL DEFENSEMAN ADDED TO SKILLS TEAM

IT'S A HOMECOMING FOR KOHA'S NEWEST SKILLS TEAM ADDITION

KALAMAZOO, 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.
 
Having 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.
 
"To 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, Matt Kakabeeke.
 
Bushee 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."
 

WMU HOCKEY ALUM TO JOIN KOHA SKILLS TEAM

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 Kakabeeke.
 
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 traffic!"

   

FROM THE HOCKEY DIRECTOR

Hello Hockey Families!
 
My name is Matt Kakabeeke and I am excited to be named KOHA's Interim Hockey Director. I wanted to touch base and share some exciting things the KOHA Staff and I have been working on as we prepare for the 2017/18 hockey season.

First, a little background on me: I grew up in Kalamazoo, I played my youth hockey with KOHA, I am currently the 2007 (10U AA K-Wings) travel coach, and for the last 15 years, I have been USA Hockey's Associate Coach-in-Chief for Michigan. I am passionate about coaching education, player development and growing the game. If you have any questions for me, you can email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

As you know, since becoming a USAH Model Association, KOHA has fielded an impressive Skills Team. This off-season, one of our goals is to tap into our local resources and really increase the experience of the coaches we have on the ice with your kids. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be announcing some new additions to the KOHA Skills Team - and we think you will be as enthusiastic as we are about having them on the ice with our players and coaches.

Stay tuned, too, for some terrific news about how we will be revamping our off-ice program & training offerings for the players.

Enjoy the rest of your spring - and for those players that attended tryouts last week, or are attending tryouts this week, we know it can be a stressful or anxious time for both players and parents. Below are links to some great articles to help navigate tryouts and their aftermath:





Thank you for choosing KOHA for your youth hockey experience! See you around the rink, 

Matt Kakabeeke
Interim Hockey Director, KOHA
 

KOHA ANNOUNCES INTERIM HOCKEY DIRECTOR & STAFF UPDATES

From the Board of Directors:

KOHA Membership,

After wrapping up what was another overall successful season, we would like to provide you with an update on the current staffing situation at KOHA. As you know, we are actively searching for an Executive Director to lead our program. While we have had some interest in the position, we haven’t identified what we feel is an ideal match for our organization at this time. We will continue our search, but in the interim, we need to have staffing in place to support our membership and to continue moving KOHA towards our vision of being a national leader in youth hockey and a regional destination.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I’m pleased to announce that we have approved an interim plan for the upcoming season as follows:

•    Matt Kakabeeke will join the staff and serve as our ‘Interim Hockey Director’, overseeing all of our on-ice initiatives, including the leadership of our coaches and skills team and the development of all hockey instruction and programming. Not only is Matt our 2007 KWings Head Coach, for the last decade he has been USA Hockey’s Associate Coach-in-Chief for the Michigan District.
“I have known Matt since he coached my son 25 years ago.  When I became the leader of coach education in Michigan, I sought him out to be one of our instructors, which he has been for almost 15 years.  Matt has a passion for making players better, as individuals and team members.  He has great hockey knowledge, is highly respected by USA Hockey's professional staff, and has something perhaps most important to his new role - absolute integrity, in that he does what he believes is right. I am thrilled to see him take on this new role, and I wish Matt and the KOHA family the best.” ~  Jack Witt, USA Hockey, Michigan Coach-in-Chief

“As KOHA enters its fifth season as a Model club, I can't think of anyone better to lead the Association into the future. Matt brings not only a wealth of hockey knowledge to the position, but a passion for improving the youth hockey experience. He is focused on continuing KOHA's emphasis on long-term athlete development and does a great job to ensure that developing character individuals is always part of KOHA's direction. I am excited to see the positive impact his leadership and guidance will bring for this next chapter of KOHA hockey.” ~Bob Mancini, USA Hockey, ADM Regional Manager

•    Frank Noonan, our current Director of Operations, will formally transition to ‘Interim Executive Director’.  Frank has been involved in youth hockey in Kalamazoo for 25+ years, as a parent, volunteer, coach, rink manager, board member, and staff/administrator and before his retirement was in the Banking Industry for 29 years.  He will work closely with the Board of Directors to execute the strategic plan and direct all aspects of the day-to-day operations both on and off the ice in addition to continuing as the KOHA Michigan Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) Representative.  Frank will also continue his responsibilities as the League Commissioner and President of the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League.

•    Dave Toth, our current Travel Director, will transition into a full-time role to provide additional support to the membership and operational functions. Dave has been involved with KOHA as a parent, travel team manager, board member & travel director for nearly twenty years.

These changes are on an interim basis and will be re-evaluated when an Executive Director is hired, or once again at the end of the season. We’re excited about each of these individuals taking on additional responsibility and providing the support to you, our membership. Additionally, the following staff remain in their current roles: Stephanie Dukesherer (Marketing & Communications), Bob Kirk (House B Director), and Lynda Colvin (Bookkeeper). If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Frank Noonan.

   

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