Hockey/Can a mite play on a squirt team?
QUESTION: Mr. Lopez,
My son is an 05 and has been playing with his team for four years. He has been called up randomly to help our organization's squirt team for the last two years. His team is moving up to squirts in the 2013-2014 season. He teamates are 04's. I have been told he cannot move up because of his age. Is this true? If so I thought we were promoting the sport and team play. He wants to play with his friends and now may not play at all.
Thank you for your help.
Thanks for writing. USA Hockey set age groups to help association deal with the pressure of making sure kids play within their age group and to keep bantam age kids from playing at the mite level. Yes, I know this sounds far fetched, but you would be surprised at what I have seen coaches do.
Having said that, sounds to me like your son has the ability to play up. If he has been invited to play up in the past, then he should be allowed to play up now. If I were you, don't talk to the coach. Go straight to the hockey director or the president of the board of your association and plead your case.
For me, when I build programs across North America and when I have a player like your son, I look at several requirements that he has to meet in order for him to play up.
1.) Does the player meet the skill level?
2.) Will he be moving from a non-checking age group into a checking age group?
3.) Will he meet the physical requirements for a checking level?
Seeing how your son's age doesn't meet within the last two, the last two don't apply. Only the first one. If he has the skill level and speed to keep up with the other kids, then I say allow him to stay with his friends.
For me, sometimes I take into account the number of kids, parents have. Sometimes age groups are at different times and I don't want parents to keep coming back to the rink several times a night. So, sometimes I allow younger kids to practice with older kids, depending upon the age group. Sometimes I make exceptions because parents and kids car pool.
Last thing. NO hockey director wants to see parents and kids go to another program. Generally when I get a parent bitching in my office (which by the way never happens) I make sure to accommodation the parent at all cost.
Too many times General Managers and Hockey Directors forget that we are in an entertainment business. Like a local movie theater. Everyone is looking for new ways to win the almighty dollar.
Yes, sometimes politics get in the way and that's sad. But sometimes you as a parent has to go fight the good fight. Go talk with the hockey director to help you with this problem. If he can't help....talk with the General Manager. He hates to see money walk out the door.
I hope this helps.
Rob Lopez - Commissioner
University Ice Hockey League - Mexico
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
Thank you very much for your answer and follow up. I am now being told that our local league has created this rule because Massachusetts Hockey is promoting it. I have tried to contact Massachusetts Hockey and USA Hockey to see if I can sign a waver, but no response yet. I am not giving up.
Thank God no one told Gordie Howe's father that his son was too young!
It's a crying shame to see leagues hold back gifted kids like that. Well, the only thing at this point, is to have you tell your son to fill up the net with puck. This has a tendency to get parents into the hockey directors office to ask him why is this kids scoring so many goals when he is too good to be playing where he's at against their child. Parents don't like to see their child lose all the time because of a so called ringer isn't place in the proper skill level.
However, on the other hand, it give your boy the opportunity to light up the goal light all the time and score goals and have fun. Beside, that's really what it's all about...having fun. Sometimes when a kid advances too fast, the skill level get lost and he just looks like any other kids out there. But, if he has a better skill level where he is at, he will stick out like a sore thumb and people will take notice. I know he's to young to scout, but you never can tell what people tell scouts. I have seen it too many times.
I wish you and your son, good luck this season....take care.
Rob Lopez - Commissioner / CEO
University Ice Hockey League - Mexico / Pass the Puck, Inc.