Letter from the President

August 8, 2020


Hello Members,


I hope this note finds everyone safe and healthy during these uncertain, strange, and trying times.  Phillips Academy has announced that it will open its ice rink facilities on Tuesday, September 8th.  I am writing to let you know what that means for AHA and to provide a sense of what the early part of our hockey season may look like. 


Massachusetts has not yet permitted hockey games as part of its phased re-opening.  As we await guidance on game play, AHA is focusing on delivering safe, high-quality practices and off-ice training.  


The Phillips Academy Ice Rinks will not open at full capacity, but rather one sheet will open on September 8th with the second sheet to follow later in the month.  The following are some of the Phillips’ guidelines - please note these guidelines are not complete and subject to change: 


  • The number of players and coaches on the ice at one time will be capped at 25 players and 5 coaches. 

  • Ice times will also be separated by a 30-minute buffer to allow safe exit and entry to the facility. 

  • Locker rooms will not be open and players must come to the rink dressed. 

  • There will be socially distanced seating available for players to tie their skates and put on their helmets. 

  • Skaters can be accompanied by one guardian only who must maintain social distancing at all times.

  • Masks are required at all times until players step on the ice. 

  • Guardians and coaches must wear masks at all times. 

  • No siblings may accompany guardians/skaters to practice. 

The Phillips Academy Ice Rinks is one of the premier hockey facilities in Massachusetts and we are lucky to call it home.  Our partners at Phillips are significantly impacted in their regular operations by COVID-19 and we are extremely fortunate that Phillips is allowing us to use their rink.  The commitment to the Andover community by Phillips in allowing us to return to the rink is amazing to see.  That said, we must live up to our end of the bargain by strictly following the guidelines they have put in place, not just because they are intended to keep us all safe and healthy, but out of respect for our host and partner.  It is absolutely critical that all members abide by the Phillips guidelines. The Board of Directors is working on our own COVID-19 guidelines, which will include exposure protocols and mechanisms to ensure compliance with the Phillips rules.  We will share those guidelines in advance of the season. 


Given the soft opening proposed by Phillips, there will be less weekday ice available to AHA. Coupled with the limits on the number of players on ice at one time, this means more of our teams will be practicing on weekends. The Board of Directors is looking at ways to bring our teams together more regularly through dryland training and other team building activities early in the season to offset the impact the ice availability may have on our players and teams. We will provide more information on our off-ice approach soon. 


While AHA is doing its best to create a safe and healthy environment for our members, we understand that families must make their own choices regarding the season. The Board of Directors will soon release a COVID-19 specific refund policy to address situations where parents wish to withdraw their child specifically due COVID-19 and in the event the season is impacted.  While this policy is not yet finalized, the intent is to do right by our members and ensure value is provided. We also know that COVID-19 has had significant financial impacts on many families. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, please contact treasurer@andoverhockey.org to confidentially discuss how AHA can help. 


From the day I started playing organized hockey when I was five years old until the last game I played in college, I had the privilege of only ever wearing a jersey that had the name of the place I lived or the school I attended, and that always mattered to me when I stepped on the ice. I was always taught that it was the name on the front, not the name on the back, that mattered. That principle is ingrained in community hockey and every time a player pulls on the Andover jersey, it should be a reminder that they are part of something larger than themselves. That’s what being a hockey player is all about. It’s also one of the most important lessons one can learn in life and helps us all be good teammates, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, neighbors and citizens. 


This season will be unlike any other. AHA is a community, and in difficult times, communities must come together and make sacrifices for the good of all.  Please consider the entire AHA community as we get back on the ice.  The last five and a half months have been difficult in different ways for a number of different reasons.  AHA is where we come together with our friends, meet new people and for many, is the place we most frequently engage with our community.   As we come back together on the ice, please watch out for each other, pick each other up and make sure that we all do our part to keep our community safe. 


AHA has some exciting news on new enhancements, offerings and vendors for the 2020 season.  If you are still reading at this point I commend you, but will save that information for a separate, briefer email. 


Enjoy these last few weeks of summer.  I look forward to seeing you back on the ice.


Sincerely,


Mike Stevens

President, Andover Hockey Association




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