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From the Board of Directors:
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.
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.
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