Dear CAHA members,
Welcome to the 2017-2018 hockey season. It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of year, but I am enthusiastic about what lies ahead and I’m honored to be leading this incredible organization into its eighteenth season and representing CAHA on the board of the Arizona Amateur Hockey Association.
This is an exciting time for hockey in Arizona. The sport is growing across the state and this year there will be a record seventy-seven teams participating at various levels from Tier I Elite to House in the two Ice Den facilities. As we prepare for the season, I’d like to share my perspective on CAHA and the opportunities ahead, as well as highlight some recent developments and changes you will notice as you interact with the organization.
Let me start first with the big picture and longer-term point of view. As those of you who have met me know, I believe that CAHA should be a nationally recognized program with the ability to field teams that can compete with the best in the country, at all age levels. While we have come a long way in the last eighteen years and are recognized for the progress that has been made, we still have work to do to keep pace as the national scene gets more competitive. Toward that end, in the coming months, I will be initiating a 360 review and strategic planning process to establish a long-term vision for the organization and help us define our annual goals, better understand resource requirements and align key stakeholders so we can get to work making that vision a reality. The first step in this process is soliciting and assimilating feedback from the CAHA community, so we can identify common themes, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Since day one, I have been doing a lot of listening and have already identified a number of opportunities and several areas in need of improvement; I look forward to continuing this process through a series of workshops and surveys with the players, parents and coaches, to better understand all the critical factors. In the meantime, we have set up a dedicated email address, CAHAfeedback@coyotesice.com to gather your feedback. Please send us any thoughts or concerns you wish to share and we will be certain they are incorporated into the review and planning process.
In the near term, I would like to share some exciting new developments and introduce a few new people you will likely cross paths with this season. Perhaps the most immediately visible change is the decision to dress all Jr. Coyotes travel teams in the same uniforms. Not only do the new uniforms look sharp, but they will also serve to reinforce our common identity and the spirit of CAHA. I am also pleased to announce the addition of Meghan Lorence as Program and Project Coordinator. Meghan joins us from Sports Engine and has a strong hockey background, including great success with the University of Minnesota Women’s Hockey team, where she won three NCAA National Championships. Meghan’s experience with Sports Engine and focus on member communications and administration will allow the organization to be more proactive and timely with the distribution of important information; and ultimately improve your experience as a CAHA member.
In the player development category, the program has also made some very significant additions. Mike Nepsa was recently hired as a full-time Goalie Coach to work with net-minders at all levels. Mike most recently served in the same capacity with Canisius College (NCAA Division 1) and also as a Lead Instructor at the Shane Clifford Goalie School. Dave Ellett, who spent more than 15 years in the NHL and played in over 1,000 games with five different franchises, has joined our program as the head coach of the U18 Elite team. Dave’s depth of knowledge, leadership skills and recruitment capabilities will benefit our players and organization immensely.
And last, but not least, to ensure that our coaches and players have access to the best tools and technology to stay ahead of the competition, the Ice Den is in the process of installing a new state of the art video room that will be available to all Jr. Coyotes teams beginning in October. Having an asset like this, combined with the experience of our talented coaching staff, is truly unique and gives CAHA a distinct competitive edge when it comes to game planning and preparation.
Hopefully, after reading this, you are as excited as I am for the season ahead. These initiatives, combined with two incredible facilities, reinforce our ongoing commitment to excellence and build upon an already solid foundation to promote player development and improve our ability to compete with the best programs in the country.
Keep an eye out for more news and updates as the season kicks off. To make sure everyone is aware of what’s happening across our organization and able to celebrate our successes, we will be posting regular updates on the website and social media channels, as well as sending regular updates via email. And, as always, please feel free to contact me directly if there is anything you believe requires my immediate attention.
Thank you for being at the heart of what we do, and for your continued support and involvement. Here’s to another incredible season!