February 6, 2020
Carolina Amateur Hockey Association c/o Paul Fidishun, President
RE: CAHA Strategic Plan Action Steps
On behalf of the Triad Hockey Alliance (THA) Board of Directors, I am providing you the thoughts and feedback on the CAHA Strategic Plan and Actions Steps as presented and developed by the CAHA Strategy Committee.
At their January 7th Board Meeting, THA reviewed and discussed the proposed CAHA Strategic Plan and Action Steps. From that discussion, the Board formed a steering committee to fully review the plan as presented and to provide feedback and recommendations to the Board at their February 4th meeting. The committee consisted of the THA Hockey Operations Manager, as chair, and several stakeholders to include representatives from Greensboro Youth Hockey Association (GYHA), the Winston-Salem Youth Hockey Association (WSYHA) as these associations feed into the THA, as well as parent and coach feedback. In addition, we solicited feedback from parents across the association and they were very honest and open with their thoughts and concerns.
Based on the committee’s work and parental comments, the THA Board is providing the following feedback to the proposal.
We agree that growing house programs is the backbone of a successful youth hockey association as long as you have the player numbers to support it.
The ADM best practices related to the goaltending coordinators and Market ADM coordinators is good.
We have major concerns, if the proposal is implemented as presented, will have on our 10U and to some extent our 12U travel programs, as well as on the THA as a whole. We feel that our program and players would be taking a step back in skills and competition. In addition, this proposal will shrink participation in our market and will not grow the sport.
We have considerable concern with the 1⁄2 ice component as well as the 3 to 1 ratio of practice to games. We do not have enough ice available to make this possible in our market.
With the 3-1 ratio our programs would go from 60-65 practices to 120 practices per year resulting in the players being at the rink from three days a week to upward of six days per week. This was major issue for parents and our lack of available ice would mean that we would need to start practices in late July in order to meet this proposed ratio.
There were major concerns expressed with the 1⁄2 ice component as presented and the overall general consensus was to maintain full ice for 10U age level. 10U players across CAHA would be at an even bigger disadvantage if this is adopted when playing competition outside of our region in tournament play.
The lower roster size will increase the cost of fees per player in our association which we see as having a negative impact of our efforts to stabilize and grow the sport in our market.
The THA concern on the lack of available ice time at our two home rinks, if the plan was fully implemented as presented, and would be detrimental to the operation of our organization.
This proposal would require us to have additional coaches due to the smaller roster size and could potentially hurt our teams if quality, trained coaches are not available.
The 12U travel restrictions were the major issue for this age level. The 12U travel restrictions for Tier II teams was not well received and was somewhat confusing as there is not consistent information in the text and in the graphs. The committee was of the opinion that it would limit the number of evenly matched teams we could schedule exhibition games.
With the limited ability to travel outside of CAHA, exhibition games would be limited to scheduling the same teams that you could be playing against in Carolina Hockey League (CHL) games. We would be playing the same team 6-8 times per year.
While the CAHA Strategic Plan’s intent is to grow and stabilize participation levels in amateur ice hockey, we believe that many parts of this proposal are counterproductive to this goal. Overall while some of the initiatives as outlined have merit, the THA Board of Directors is not supportive of full implementation as currently proposed and we would recommend the following:
Eliminate the 1⁄2 ice component for 10U age level mandate and make this an association option
Eliminate the 3-1 ratio mandate and make this an association option
CAHA should further evaluate the timing for implementation until further review and input is provided.
While a phased-in approach was outlined, consider a longer phased in approach for implementation, providing associations the time to adjust and fully understand the impact on the programs. We believe this phased approach should be closer to a 4-5 year timeline in order for associations to grow their participation levels to field major and minor teams.
CAHA should further evaluate the financial and operational impact this will have on smaller associations with limited ice availability like THA.
Has a similar model been successfully implemented with other affiliates under USA Hockey and what have been the results? Make sure results consider the size of the associations involved.
In addition to this feedback and recommendation, we have a number of questions based on the proposal as well that we would like CAHA to take into consideration or to get further clarification on:
Is the development of the strategic plan mandated by USA Hockey and what are there model programs now in existence utilizing this model that are similar to CAHA?
If USA Hockey is not mandating these changes, why is CAHA pushing for such a fast implementation, when most states do not structure their programs like the proposed? It seems this proposal would put our North and South Carolina at an even greater disadvantage if the entire nation were not implementing the same proposal.
Is this mandatory for all CAHA affiliated associations or is it voluntary or considered optional? If mandatory, how will CAHA enforce?
In the development of the strategic plan, was there consideration given to the affect it would have on smaller size associations?
In developing the travel restrictions, why is CAHA not considering limiting travel to the Southeastern District versus within CAHA?
We appreciate the opportunity to provide our association’s thoughts on the proposed strategic plan. THA looks forward to hearing from CAHA on next steps, as well as how member associations will be involved in the process to benefit hockey and our region as a whole.
Zach Maggart, President and Members of the THA Board of Directors