The Grosse Pointe (Michigan) Hockey Association has added two bountiful boosters in recent years. First was USA Hockey’s American Development Model, which helped spur growth throughout the Lady Bulldogs program, and most recently, the new non-profit East Side Hockey Foundation has stepped up to help fortify that growth and expand ADM implementation.
“We’ve been working extremely hard on pushing upward the ADM into squirt, peewee, U14, U12, U10 programs,” said Paul Fayad, a coach in the Grosse Pointe Hockey Association and one of the driving forces behind the creation of the foundation, which works to preserve youth hockey on the east side of Detroit.
“We’ve been playing hockey and coaching hockey all of our lives,” Fayad said of a group of Grosse Point coaching leaders. “We knew when we saw it that the ADM was the way of the future and the way the game should be taught.”
The Grosse Pointe Hockey Association, which was formed in 1962, has 14 teams participating in travel, house and ADM programs. The all-girls Lady Bulldogs portion of the association has U10, U12 and U14 teams. There are also more than a half dozen girls participating in the co-ed mites ADM program for players 8-and-under.
“The girls’ program is one of the fastest growing programs in this area of Michigan,” Fayad said. “We started an all-girls ADM program for 8-and-under four years ago. With that, we created a buzz for girls to bring girls out to play hockey. They could invite their friends. We put a real strong emphasis on creating an awareness of women’s hockey, and we had a lot of girls come out, so it’s been a successful program through word of mouth, through advertising in the local newspapers and through these young ladies going back and talking to their friends.”
The East Side Hockey Foundation is helping provide stability. It purchased the Grosse Pointe Community Rink in August to protect the Grosse Point Hockey Association from losing one of its two home rinks to a potential sale and demolition. The foundation is also providing funding for equipment and to reduce ice-time costs in designated growth areas, including girls’ teams, by up to 70 percent.
“We offer a program where they don’t have to pay,” Fayad said. “They can come out and try it. We give them equipment. If they like it, they can sign up. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to spend any money.
“There are no [upfront] out-of-pocket costs for parents, which makes it even better.”
The entire Grosse Pointe Hockey Association places a strong emphasis on the ADM, including constant dialog with parents and others about its concepts via the association website and an e-newsletter. On IIHF Girls’ Hockey Weekend in October, Michele Amidon, a USA Hockey ADM regional manager, furthered that effort by hosting a forum designed to discuss the program with players, parents and coaches.
Fayad and girls’ director Sam Steinhebel work closely to make sure practice plans and station drills within the model are customized to fit the current level of play of those relatively new girls’ teams.
“We’re spending a large amount of time teaching our new coaches and making sure they’re implementing and utilizing the philosophies of the American Development Model, which have been proven in our association to develop high-level players,” Fayad said.
In addition to the ADM being prevalent through practice plans and the organization of each team’s season, there is an additional All-Girls ADM Night each Monday. Girls who play in the co-ed mites ADM program are free to join Lady Bulldogs players that night, and any girl who wants to try the sport can join in for ADM-based drills as well. Players are separated by age and skill level as they move among the stations.
“When we created the program for both boys and for girls, we knew we had to market it and we had to sell it. We had to explain it. We wanted people to have a place they could go to where they could see and get answers that they wouldn’t get from other organizations.”
As part of that mission, Grosse Pointe has taken its association to new heights.
“They’ve made great strides,” said Bob Mancini, a Michigan-based USA Hockey ADM regional manager. “After visiting them, it’s obvious that Paul and the Grosse Pointe coaches really understood the importance of high-performance development at every age. It’s a credit to the whole Grosse Pointe association the way they’ve married retention and player development to build it into the program that it is today.”