Jr. Sharks score with Model Association status
By Greg Ball
It’s been more than a year since the San Jose Jr. Sharks were first named a Model Association by USA Hockey, and the program is enjoying the benefits.
On the weekend of Sept. 30-Oct. 1, the Jr. Sharks hosted a group of officials from USA Hockey, who put on a series of on-ice practices as well as off-ice coaching and forums for parents as part of a model association event at Sharks Ice rinks in San Jose and Oakland.
“It was really cool,” said Mike Janda, the Jr. Sharks’ player advancement coordinator and a coach of the 14U AAA and 15U AAA teams. “It’s an opportunity that we get every year as a model association. It’s an opportunity for the people from USA Hockey to reinforce that what we’re doing is what they’re looking for. We always want to make sure we’re giving our kids the tools to develop and go to the next level.
“It’s good for the players and their parents to hear it from the people at USA Hockey, and it makes us as coaches feel like we’re doing the right things.”
The on-ice sessions focused heavily on the age-appropriate training methods that are the foundation of USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM). USA Hockey regional ADM managers Michele Amidon, Ty Hennes, Matt Herr and Bob Mancini led the sessions in conjunction with staff from the Jr. Sharks.
The regional managers attended approximately 12 shared practices and reached nearly every one of the Jr. Sharks’ teams, sharing some new ideas and best practices that are in use throughout USA Hockey.
The off-ice sessions featuring the Jr. Sharks’ coaching staff were geared toward players’ parents and focused on ADM principles related specifically to skill development, from practice planning to competition schedules and sport science to long-term athlete development principles. Age-specific training was a significant topic.
“Our staff is excited to visit the Bay Area and spread the word about age-appropriate skill development,” said USA Hockey’s ADM technical director Ken Martel. “The Jr. Sharks program has truly been a model throughout the state and the nation. We’re proud to partner with them in growing the game and providing the best possible competition and training environment for players.”
The Jr. Sharks were selected a model association in June of 2013, and are currently one of just 17 programs across the United States to have received such a designation. There are just two in California, the other being Wildcats Hockey Club in Riverside and Carlsbad.
The program was developed as a means for USA Hockey to forge a closer relationship with highly motivated youth hockey associations that have the ability to deliver world-class youth hockey programming. Organizations designated as model associations have committed to follow the American Development Model in full at the 8U, 10U and 12U age groups. The ADM is based on age-appropriate training to fully benefit children in their development, regardless of ability level, and was launched in 2009.
As a benefit of their model program designation, the Jr. Sharks receive added support from USA Hockey to assist in implementing the ADM throughout their programs, including equipment, signage, and educational materials. They also receive on-going staff support from USA Hockey’s national office, including in-depth coaches training.
Sharks Ice-San Jose is the nation’s largest ice skating facility under one roof west of the Mississippi River. It accounts for 28 percent of all USA Hockey registered players in California and boasts a total of 28 teams in its Jr. Sharks program.
Janda said that one of the representatives from USA Hockey paid him and his Jr. Sharks colleagues a significant compliment during the visit, pulling him aside to tell him that the San Jose program was the best model association they work with.
“That was pretty nice to hear, in terms of how we structure our in-house program and our travel and tier teams,” Janda said. “He said we’re the most impressive and best model club in the United States.”