Wildcats firm believers in mission statement
As Wildcats Hockey Club has grown over the last three years and its leaders have rebuilt the organization from the ground up, they’ve spent plenty of time and expended endless energy establishing the best foundation possible for the future.
While the bulk of the effort has been focused on researching best practices and coaching methods, implementing step-by-step developmental goals and understanding how to build the best hockey players and citizens, Wildcats president Ben Frank and his colleagues realize that communicating their vision is just as important as enacting it.
With that in mind, the Wildcats recently unveiled their “Belief System” – essentially a mission statement that’s intended to guide the program and its people in everything they do.
“It’s really the foundation of what we do and why we do it,” Frank said. “We clarified it and boiled it down to something that we can put out there to our coaches, players and parents – and even families that are considering our program – so everyone really understands where our priorities and values lie, as well as how we make the decisions that we do.”
The belief system, posted prominently on the Wildcats’ Web site, reads:
“Together, we can make youth hockey a life-changing experience.
“We believe in learning. We understand how learning works and have built a scientific, evidence-based curriculum around these principles. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be ugly, but we know that together we can learn and achieve anything we are willing to work for.
“We believe in age-appropriate, long-term athletic development and are completely against the short-term, win-at-all-costs culture.
“We believe we have the responsibility to harness the power of youth sports to build better people, closer families and a better world.”
Frank said the purpose of outlining the Wildcats’ core values and putting them down in writing was to ensure that everyone involved in the program understands from the outset what they’re trying to accomplish and how they plan to reach those goals.
While their detailed curriculum and the principles of USA Hockey’s American Development Model offer similar outlines, the belief system is more straightforward and easier to digest.
“Anyone who’s had experience in youth hockey will know that, over the course of a season, it’s not unusual to have issues that you have to deal with,” Frank said. “In our earlier years as a program, those were certainly more frequent than they are now because we were still in the process of rebuilding.
“Now we have a clearer value system that’s much more consistent. The only time we might run into issues is when someone doesn’t understand or agree with the philosophies and the values that we set out, and one of the ideas behind publishing our belief system is to be as upfront as possible about our goals and methods.”
When Frank took over the Wildcats, he and his staff had to first develop the foundation, programming and approaches that would guide them in their day-to-day interactions, as well as their long-term approach from season to season.
As those plans developed, they began to think about ways to communicate that vision more effectively to all those with a stake in the program. They wanted something that spoke to not only coaches who’ve been involved with hockey all their lives, but also to parents whose kids are brand new to the sport and all those in between.
It needed to be concise and filter all of the Wildcats’ ideals right down to their core elements.
“By making that belief system readily available and easy for people to find, when new families or coaches come into the Wildcats program, they know what to expect,” Frank said, “and we think that makes for a much better experience for everybody.
“If we deliver on these core principles and people understand them, then everything else falls into place.”
– Greg Ball
Photo: Wildcats Hockey Club president Ben Frank, right, pictured with Matthew Odom of the program’s Bantam AA team