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For Coaches/Managers: Planning for the 2020-21 hockey season

By Jack Witt, Michigan District Coach-In-Chief, 05/28/20, 11:15PM EDT

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Coaching News Updated May 28

This note is for  all Michigan coaches and team managers.  After months of really bad news, and after extensive discussion and advocating for our sport, we can see progress toward re-opening as we close out the month of May.  Many of us have lost friends or acquaintances these past three months, others are out of work, and of course, all our rinks have been shut down and there is no hockey, amateur or professional.  Yet, we continue to believe that there will be hockey this fall, in some form, and we are working hard to make it happen.  I know this is a long note, but please review it.

To begin, you should know that there are a lot of good hockey people working on alternatives for whatever scenario(s) we find in the fall.  The Michigan Amateur Hockey web site, www.maha.org, now has a section dedicated to this planning, with up-to-date information on rink openings, tryouts, physical safety for participants, etc.    We also have been able to provide input to the State of Michigan as they plan the reopening of youth sports.

Also, please be reassured that USA Hockey and Michigan Amateur Hockey really appreciate the contributions of, our youth coaches.    Without you, there is no sport.  We all hope that your dedication to coaching will continue into the next season!

Things to consider during this “down-time”

To that end, I want to take a moment via this newsletter to remind you that registration as a coach is now open for next season.  If you are in a position to do so, this “down time” is a good time to get this accomplished.   You can register online at https://membership.usahockey.com/.   Along with registration, now is a good time to get your background check done also.  This is a new process for next season, which you can start at https://www.usahockey.com/backgroundscreen.  Background screens are good for two years.  Finally, these spring months are also good times to update your Safe Sport status, which needs to be done annually.  If you need to take Safe Sport, you can access that web site at https://www.usahockey.com/safesportprogram

Also, USA Hockey’s Coaching Program is exploiting our media capabilities, holding webinars each week to keep our members motivated and informed.  The easiest way to access this information is on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanDevelopmentModel/.  Even if you cannot attend “live”, the recordings are archived for your use, and I think you will find that both the presenters and the presentations are first-class, worthy of your time.

A word about Coaching Clinics – we are still examining our options to hold clinics next fall, given the current pandemic.  As of May 28, there are discussions about holding online virtual clinics beginning in July, with in-person clinics this fall as permitted by local and state authorities.  More to come on this by mid-June.  On the other hand, the Online Modules and Level 3 Recertification programs are online, they are available now.  You can complete them during the spring or summer to be ready to go in the fall.   Find them at https://www.usahockey.com/coachingcertification.

A Warning About Unsanctioned Activities    (Updated 5-6-2020)

Before closing out this update, I also need to raise some concerns over a very few of our members who give the appearance of violating MAHA’s policies and rules on tampering/recruiting and tryouts.  Importantly - be sure that any player contacts are initiated with the knowledge/participation of the parents to avoid a Safe Sport violation.  Tryouts, or any activity that could be construed as a try-out as defined in the MAHA Guidebook, are prohibited right now.  Remember, you have no official roster of players at this time, so if you plan activities with a small group of players, be sure that your hockey association or club is aware of it and approves.  The best way to do player development activities at this time would be if they are open to all members of an age group, and are sponsored officially by the club or association, while complying with any large-group health requirements.

Also, many of us hear rumors of various MAHA start-up dates.   While we are getting closer to re-opening, as of this writing, all MAHA team and player-related activities are still suspended.   There is no official “restart” date, thus any rumors to the contrary are just that – rumors.  The MAHA web site will always reflect official information on when any activities, such as tryouts, can begin.   Email notices will be sent to leagues, associations, and you, our coaches, when we can begin to “open up”. 

I know many of us are going “stir crazy” and we want to return to our normal lives.  That is not yet possible.  I strongly urge you to be sure that any coaching related activities you undertake during this unusual time are in compliance with USA Hockey and MAHA rules/policies.  For example, developing your own skills as a coach is a perfect activity right now.  If you have questions, contact your local hockey association, or your regional MAHA officials, using the “About MAHA” tab of the web site.

In closing, I and my entire staff of instructors wish you all the best in this difficult time.   We hope to see you at a clinic, or online, in the fall!

Jack Witt, Michigan District Coach-in-Chief