Letter from the President
September 2, 2021
Welcome back to another season of Andover hockey! I’m excited to get back to the rink and hope all of you are, as well. With the start of the season upon us, I want to share some information about what you should expect this season.
Last year wasn’t easy and while we’re still not out of the woods, hockey season should hopefully look a little closer to normal. That said, it is still critically important that we remain vigilant and follow the guidelines.
AHA’s COVID-19 Protocols this season are simple: follow the Department of Health guidelines and the local rules wherever your team is playing. At Phillips Academy, masks are required while inside the rink, but not for players on the ice or bench. For the safety of our kids, parents and PA staff, please follow the rules. The PA mask requirement is non-negotiable and failure to comply will have consequences for individuals and teams. Please pack a few masks in a zip-lock and leave it in your players’ bags in case the rules change overnight at the various locations where AHA games take place. If you have team functions, please have them outside while the weather permits. Many of us experienced team shut-downs last season and we should do everything we can to ensure that doesn’t happen again. Team gatherings are important for a lot of reasons, but let’s be smart about it. As we’ve all seen over the past 18 months, things change often and quickly with this pandemic, so AHA will continue to evaluate our approach and protocols as the season goes on.
PLAYER DEVELOPMENT IMPROVEMENTS
This season AHA has partnered with Elev802 Boston, a new skill development facility in downtown Andover. All AHA players from Mite Travel through Bantam/U14 will have 2 sessions per month at Elev802 in addition to their regular practice schedule. These will be smaller group sessions and entire teams may not be together, which means that some age levels will have skills groups with players from multiple teams. AHA believes these small group training sessions will be a tremendous benefit to our players and their on-ice development. This new partnership also allows us to have additional training, rather than regular AHA practice taken over for skills, so our coaches will have more team time to work with and the skills staff will be able to better tailor the programming to the specific skill levels of the players on the ice, rather than providing a more generic offering spanning a wider range of abilities and experience.
Erika Hammar is back as our skating instructor and will run sessions for every team once a month. Pat Gigante and his team at XP have space at Elev802 Boston and all AHA players Squirts and above will have dryland sessions there once a month beginning in November. Sarah Appleton is returning as our Girls’ program on-ice director and Steve Mastalerz and the team at GDS will continue the great work they do with our goalies.
Please see the Skills Providers section of our website for more details on the expert instructors who will be working with your children.
Finally, we will also soon be offering registration for supplemental training at Elev802 for AHA players from LTS through High School. If you’ve been looking for more ice time, this is a great way to get it.
As a community based, 100% volunteer led not-for-profit organization, having plenty of helping hands is mission critical. While not everyone can put on skates and run a practice, there are a number of ways to help. AHA is strongly encouraging all teams to have manager this season and we have developed a guide to help managers understand what tasks they can take on to make life easier for players, parents and coaches. AHA also has a number of special events over the course of the season, including the Heseltine Tournament in November and the Community Service Initiative in February. Even if you can’t commit to formal role like team manager, I strongly encourage everyone to volunteer in some capacity this season. Please reach out to Volunteer and Special Events Coordinator, Stephanie Howard (email@example.com) to learn more. Also, please keep in mind that it is always helpful to coaches when parents help out with getting nets, bumpers and cones on the ice before a practice.
Also, AHA is still in need of additional coaches, so if you or anyone you know (from high school to college to empty nesters) are interested in coaching, please reach out to Coaching Director Rich Enos (firstname.lastname@example.org).
GROWING THE GAME
I sometimes feel like people tire of me trying to convince them to sign-their kids up for hockey when I see them at school pick-up, the grocery store, taking out their trash, etc., but I love the game and think AHA is a great place for kids to develop on and off the ice. If you thought I was going to write a long email like this and not solicit new players, you thought wrong. If you have family, friends or neighbors who are interested in the game—please send them our way! Initiation Director Chuck Tomes (email@example.com) or Coaching Director Rich Enos (firstname.lastname@example.org) can help kids get involved, regardless of their age or experience. We also have ways to help provide equipment for new players to make starting out even easier.
We also like to showcase our real stars – our players – on our social media platforms, so please follow, “like” and share with us on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.
Finally, AHA is always looking to improve the experience of our members, and to that end we recently launched a Coaches’ Survey and Member Survey to better understand how the program can get better. If you haven't filled out the Member Survey yet—please do! The more feedback we get, the better.
See you at the rink!
Andover Hockey Association