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Letter from a Volunteer Coach

01/19/2016, 10:00am CST
By Minnesota Hockey

It was a home game. We were down 4-3 and I rolled the next line for the final shift. I heard it from the stands – it wasn’t the group of kids they wanted on the ice to close out the game. I wasn’t surprised.

The final buzzer sounded and I felt an anxiety wash over me, because I know that after I tell my players that I’m proud of the way they battled and praised them for positive moments in the game, some of the parents would have a different message – for me and for their kids.

I’m a volunteer. I’m a parent. My kid is on the team – and this is hard. I’m doing my best. I volunteered to coach because I thought it would be fun, I wanted to contribute, and, I genuinely care about this group of kids.

I like to think I know the game pretty well, but I know you sometimes disagree with me and my decisions. Hey, that’s OK. I would probably do the same if the roles were reversed, and I know I make mistakes just like the kids do. But what makes my job very difficult is knowing that some of you are contradicting my coaching on the car-ride home, at the dinner table and beyond.

As we pass the midway point of the season, it’s very natural for people to be “evaluating” and, of course, talking amongst each other at and away from the rink.

Can I ask for a little help? Please let us handle the coaching. Even if you don’t agree, please let your child be coached and let them understand the need to be coachable, receptive and respectful. In order for our team to be successful, we need you on board. You may not realize the type of impact your support of our lessons has, but trust me, it has a monumental impact on these kids.

As coaches, it’s our responsibility to push them and challenge them. That’s why we try so hard to make practices fun and engaging and energetic but at the same time forcing them into difficult situations and making them figure things out on their own. I want the kids to make mistakes. And then I want them to learn from those mistakes. Winning is fun, absolutely, but it isn’t everything. Far from it!

That’s why I strongly believe these kids deserve equal playing time – and I’m going to give it to them. They all signed up to play hockey. I don’t think I could sleep at night knowing I benched 10- or 11-year-olds or even 12- or 13- or 14-year-olds, over a bad pass or turnover. Why would they want to come back and play the next season?

Our team has lost more games than we have won this year – on the scoreboard. That does not make us failures. We certainly have failing moments on the ice, but we improve by learning from those failures. Our kids have also learned how to reflect and evaluate their individual and team performance. They have learned about performance factors and intangibles – things they have to learn through experience, not by being told. Adversity is something they will face in every facet of life. They cannot and should not be exempt from that, regardless of their age.

Lastly, I want to sincerely thank you for supporting your child’s love of hockey. I know how much of a commitment it can be. I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes after a long day of work, it’s hard to get excited about battling traffic, picking up my daughter, making sure she’s fed, and getting to the rink. Please know that your dedication is acknowledged.

Regardless of our differences in opinions of the game, we can support each other when it comes to the needs and goals of the team. Give it a shot. I promise, we will all enjoy the season a little bit more! Go team!



HYHA Volunteer Information

The Hopkins Youth Hockey Association is an organization run by its volunteers and depends on the assistance of its members to function as a successful organization. It is critical that we all share in the commitment to produce a quality program. Volunteers are absolutely essential to maintaining and growing the Hopkins Youth Hockey Association. The more volunteers we have, the better our association becomes.

Visit our Volunteer Page for more detailed information


Q: What are the basic skills that will be taught at the introductory levels?
A: The kids will be taught how to balance themselves on skates, how to skate forward and backward, how to stop, how to hold on to their hockey stick, and how to shoot the puck. We will also teach them the rules of the game.

Q: Can I go on the ice and help?
A:  In order to participate on the ice, you must hold a current CEP card.  CEP is the Coaching Certification process administered by USA Hockey.  More information can be found on the coaches page or contact the Ace Coordinator for more details.  Helmets are mandatory for anyone on the ice at all times.

Q: Do you have a checklist of required equipment?
A: We have put together a helpful checklist for hockey equipment, here it is: skates, helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, shin pads, gloves, hockey pants, stick, cup, mouth guard, Neck Guard is optional. Sweat pants can also be used to cover the shin pads.
Q: Do Boys and Girls Play together?
A: We offer both Youth and Girls options at every level when participation allows it.  Girls team levels are U8, U10, U12 and U14.  Youth teams would inlude all Mite levels, Squirts, Peewees and Bantams. 
Q: What is the difference in the Mite Levels?
A: Mini Mites are for Kids new to Hockey or new to skating, Mostly 1st and 2nd year kids. Mid Mites are mostly 2nd and 3rd year kids that are above the just learning to skate level. Advance mites are for 3rd and 4th year kids. Advance mites are chosen during an evaluation process before the full season begins.
Q: Who should I contact for information about a certain level of play? 
All Mites: Janal Petersen 

Boys Travel teams:  Don Olson or Adam Brower
Girls Travel teams:  Bob Helling 

Q: What is the Concession fee for?
A: Each family is required to participate in helping fill a shift in the concession stand for each player they have in HYHA.  The concession stand helps pay for the costs associated with running the HYHA program. The check is held for the season and is only cashed if the concession stand shift obligation is not fulfilled by the parents during the season.

Q: How can I become involved in the association?
A: Contact any of our board members. Their names are listed on page one of this newsletter and our website at: We are a volunteer association and encourage all our members to get involved and join in the fun. We welcome all our members to come to a board meeting – they are the third Monday of every month located at the Hopkins Pavilion.

Q: Why should I let my child play hockey?
A: Hockey is fun sport for kids of all ages, ability and size. It is a great way for your child to get physical activity especially during the winter months. They also develop lasting friendships because many of the children stay together playing hockey year after year. Our children become representatives of our community at games, tournaments and fundraisers.

Q: How much time will hockey take?
A: The season begins in September with optional clinics with tryouts taking place for traveling levels in October.  The start of the season is the first week of November and the season ends in February. The amount of practices and games each week depends on the age level of the hockey player. Mites will have ice time on Saturday and Sundays. The older hockey players practice between 2-4 times a week and have 1-2 games a week. Younger age level practices and Games are around 1 ½ hours long and begin in November.