Q & A: CAHA president Steve Laing
Steve Laing is in his eighth year as the California Amateur Hockey Association’s (CAHA) president, making him the longest tenured person in that position.
Under his watch, the state’s governing body for amateur hockey has introduced several measures aimed at making the game safer and growing participation, which is especially pronounced at the high school and adult levels.
He took time out recently to speak with California Rubber Magazine senior editor Chris Bayee.
California Rubber: Tell us about your background in the game?
Steve Laing: I never played the sport growing up. My son started playing at age 8 (in 1993) as a Mite B player. I was skating, knew the game and helped out on the ice with our coaching staff. We were original members of Beach City Lightning (BCL) hockey club. In 1994, I got my coaching card and elevated to Level 3 CEP. I became an assistant coach with the Squirts (1994-95) and Pee Wee team (96).
During that time, I was on the BCL board of directors, tournament committee, then vice president and then club president.
In the mid-90s I was asked to join the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association (SCAHA) Executive Committee, which I did, stepping down from BCL. I was on the SCAHA Executive Committee for several years and then ran for a position as a CAHA director. I was elected to the CAHA board I think around 1995.
CR: What prompted you to get involved in CAHA?
SL: Actually, our team was in the state championship tournament and we were eliminated by tiebreaker rules. We contested the process – it almost became a legal battle – when late at night, we were advised that we were in the finals and the tiebreaker rule was broken illegally.
Most of our kids had headed home and we won the CAHA championship despite the issues. The following year I ran for a director’s seat. Since then, I was reelected and chaired the tournament committee for many years thereafter.
CR: When did you take over as CAHA’s president?
SL: In 2007, I was appointed CAHA president by the board of directors to fill the seat left vacant by Charlie Fuertsch, who became a (USA Hockey) Pacific District Director. I’ve since been reelected president to three terms and now I am on my fourth term.
CR: What have been your proudest accomplishments?
SL: In 2009, the adoptions of our screening policy and the increase of membership, which continues to grow today.
In 2010, we implemented our Concussion Awareness Program, the state adult championship tournament and our Ethics Policy. In 2011, I co-authored USA Hockey’s SafeSport Handbook. In 2013, rule changes to every two years, and I reached the longest tenure as a CAHA president. And in 2012, we added a pure CAHA state championship tournament for high school hockey.
CR: High school hockey seems to be growing exponentially in California since it was introduced. How much bigger can it get in the state?
SL: There’s no end to the possibilities. It’s increasing at a very high rate every year. In 2015, we’ll introduce another “new” high school league (in the Los Angeles area).
CR: What are things you see in California hockey that could be improved?
SL: The tier program and state camps are always a concern of mine. I’m always trying to make sure we’re doing what’s best for the players and the sport as a whole.
CR: You have a couple of other interesting jobs you “double shift” at. Could you tell us about those?
SL: Besides 37 years in law enforcement, I’ve been an off-ice official in Anaheim for the NHL since 1995. I’ve worked two Stanley Cup Finals series.