Dear HNS Members,
As the upcoming annual membership meeting approaches, I wanted to take a minute and communicate some important information to our community. My hope is that having accurate information will help inform you as you make important decisions that will shape and influence the future of HNS.
First, I would like to briefly discuss some changes that have occurred within our rink community. In the past two years Ice World was sold by the original ownership group to Blackstreet Holding Company. The new ownership corporation, hired Tomorrow’s Ice (TI) Corporation, owned and operated by Mike Shramek, to run all hockey programming at Ice World. Ed Slusher, the Ice World Hockey Director was hired by Tomorrow’s Ice, and together Mike and Ed immediately met with HNS board members and laid out their strategy for Ice World hockey programming. This included a strong desire to work in tandem with HNS to provide quality hockey instruction from hockey initiation through Rec, Travel, and higher-level Tier 1 hockey at Ice World. TI felt, and still feels strongly, that HNS is the appropriate place for Tier 2 Hockey at Ice World. Let me be very clear on this, TI has no desire to subsume the club, run HNS from the rink, or take players from our program. They are a central part of the hockey community at Ice World. It is essential for our membership to understand that TI represents the rink ownership corporation to all club members regarding any and all hockey related issues. There has always, since the building of the rink and the introduction of Hockey and later the emergence of HNS at Ice World, a relationship between HNS and rink ownership. The change recently is that TI now serves as rink ownership representation to HNS. Blackstreet Holding Company has invested in TI and has paid them to perform this service on their behalf.
Second, I would like to discuss the current mite programming at the rink and our relationship with TI. TI runs our mite programs, as Ice World did in the past. If you are currently a parent of mite player, your child is fully imbedded in the TI program. This was necessary to reduce costs for our travel mites. Mite travel teams only have between 8-12 players per team. Dividing ice twice per week, plus home games between 16-18 players was simply not something HNS could do at a reasonable cost. The mite program has always combined the in-house mite program and travel programs. To keep this consistent and prices affordable, TI runs the HNS mites’ program. Furthermore, HNS does not have the capacity to take on the entire mite program, which can consist of anywhere between 35-65 players, depending on registration numbers.
Third, I would like to discuss our in-house program at Ice World. HNS has typically fielded between 5-8 travel teams. The remaining players have been part of the in-house/rec hockey program at the rink. Prior to new ownership, Ed, as the rink Hockey Director, was able to combine rec and travel programs to share ice and move players and teams around to minimize costs and provide quality hockey development. This is no longer possible under the current model. The rec program always belonged to the rink, however, it was not visible for parents to see the differentiation between the two programs. This past year, with all the negative perception by the Ice World Hockey community towards TI, HNS attempted to field as many teams as possible. Due to declinations, late registrations, and various other issues, this model challenged the club. Moving forward HNS will pivot back to the original rec/in house model that has been in place in previous years. HNS will focus on travel programs in the CBHL. The rink, through TI, will run HNS rec programming; essentially, HNS Powered by TI. The result will be a more affordable program and what we believe to be a better model for player development.
Fourth, I would like to discuss the paid services that TI provides HNS. TI provides HNS with full practice support at the 10U (Squirt) age group. These are our youngest players and need the very best hockey development we can provide. Mites are already fully under the TI purview, HNS does not provide TI with a fee for the mites as discussed above. TI runs skating development for 12U (Pee Wee’s) at their practices and provides all HNS teams (except 16U/18U) with skills development sessions. The skills sessions are often lightly attended but are fully run, planned, and coordinated by TI, a benefit for all members who choose to attend and a critical component of player development. TI provides goalie coaching at the request of coaches. In addition, TI provides practice planning assistance, in practice/on ice assistance, and goal coaching for any coach at any age level and any team at the request of the team coach. This information has been communicated to all coaches and team managers.
Lastly, I would like to state that when the HNS board makes any decision, they consider the course of action that will most benefit the club as a whole. The goal of HNS is to provide quality hockey player development along with a positive hockey experience for each member. When making decisions, the board must consider the interests of all members above the interests of individuals. The board does everything in its power to learn from past mistakes and make better informed decisions moving forward.
There have been numerous rumors swirling around the rink regarding the amount we have paid to TI for their services, to the benefit we receive from and the specificity of TI services, to negotiating the cost HNS pays for ice with rink ownership and others. I ask that before you decide on what you believe to be a truth, you approach a board member for specific and accurate details. We sincerely hope to see you at the annual membership meeting and look forward to your thoughtful participation.
Thank you and please contact me with any questions.
Harford North Stars Youth Hockey Club
Harford North Stars families,
As I’ve noted in several previous messages, there have been quite a few changes this season around Ice World and the Harford North Stars. One change in particular that you all need to be keenly aware of affects Ed Slusher’s relationship to HNS. In the past, Ed was the hockey director for Ice World. He was employed by Ice World, and, as HNS was the largest hockey program at the rink, he became, over the years, our de facto hockey director. He was involved in all aspects of our growing organization and became the “go-to” guy for most information relating to all things hockey. That is no longer the case.
With the change in rink ownership, a management company, Tomorrow’s Ice, was brought in to oversee all hockey programs run by Ice World. HNS is not run by Ice World. Although we are the largest program at the rink, we are run by our own board of directors and have our own director of hockey operations. Ed’s duties are now dictated by Tomorrow’s Ice and, although he is at the rink daily and is still involved in certain aspects of the HNS hockey program it is by contract and he has other hockey responsibilities through Tomorrow’s Ice.
Bottom line here is to inform you of the changes that affect our players and ask that you please contact Dave Jones, HNS Director of Hockey Operations at firstname.lastname@example.org. Chad Bowker, HNS vice president, at email@example.com, or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns regarding the HNS hockey program.
Thank you and see you at the rink,
Harford North Stars Family,
I would like to address two things message – The Midget Team(s) and the Hockey Director
1) Recently there seems to be some angst and misinterpretation with regard to a Tier I, AA midget team at Ice World. To explain briefly, the 15U/16U/18U team is to be run by Tomorrows Ice Development Program (TIDP). Although its home ice will be Ice World, it will NOT be affiliated in any way with the Harford North Star organization. It will purchase ice slots from Ice World and/or HNS (depending upon availability). It will draw its pool of players from multiple surrounding hockey organizations. It’s impact on the HNS midget program is projected to be minimal, as the number of players currently at the AA level in our program is about the same number of fingers on my right hand.
When I became HNS president, I made a commitment to establishing and maintaining a midget team at any or all of the 15U, 16U, and 18U levels. I also made a commitment to providing an opportunity for our elite players to move into other, more competitive, programs. I do not want to continue to have them just walk away. I want our organization to be able to direct them to programs that can also impact HNS. This TIDP situation will produce a win/win for our organization in that players will stay within the Ice World environment, it will give our younger players an incentive to work harder, learn and develop in order to attain that elite status., and it can provide an opportunity for these elite players to be mentors to our younger players.
2) With regard to Ed Slusher, Hockey Director, understand that he is NOT the HNS Hockey Director. He works for Ice World; he is paid by Ice World, and he is responsible for programs such as Try Hockey for Free, Hockey Basics, Slusher Hockey, the Adult leagues, and the Adult Instructional program. His involvement with HNS is as a liaison between our program and Ice World; that was why he was elected to our board. Because our program has grown over the years, and because ED has been involved with so many of our players through the years, he has been a true asset to HNS but he’s not ours. He has done this all gratis. That will change , to a degree, but more on that later.
I hope that this has been of some help to all of you.
Thanks for your continued commitment and participation in the HNS hockey program and I’ll see you at the rink,
Sitting here discussing the first third of the season with Ed, things appear, for the most part, to be going well for the kids. Teams are doing well in tournaments, skills sessions are packed, and Try Hockey for Free was a success.
However, I think that I need to put on my tactfully tactless New York self and address an issue that has reared its negative head. There are HNS parents, adults, who apparently see a need to bad mouth the HNS board. Not many, but it doesn’t take many. In case you have forgotten, the HNS board is a group of volunteers who have made the decision to step up and involve themselves in trying to run the organization in an orderly fashion to ensure that all the kids have a place to play, a team to be a part of, and a fun experience in this great sport.
There are approximately 200 kids playing HNS hockey. That means that there are probably at last 400 parents who are members of this organization. Every April we have a general membership meeting. Do you know how many parent attended the meeting? 12, TWELVE! Did you know that the HNS board meetings are open meetings? How many of you attend? O, ZERO! If you have an issue, bring it to a board meeting. If it can’t wait, I can always call an ad hoc meeting. If you have a solution, come to the membership meeting and run for a spot on the board.
Many on the board are new to their position and are working hard at making this organization move forward. So, my advice and hope is that you get involved and be constructively critical and solution oriented. Thank you and see you at the rink.
HOCKEY. STARTS. NOW. Skills, practices, games all start this week and I have to tell you that it’s been a bit of a bumpy road over the last month. I won’t make excuses for the confusion, but I will try to explain it just a bit. Several events and changes took place within the HNS hockey program over the last three months. First, we have several newly elected board members, all of whom are working hard to learn and apply their new roles and duties. Second, we decided to have ALL team practices, regardless of league affiliation, start the same week. This impacted ice availability and purchase and roster compilations. (See Question of the Month for more on rosters). Third, we changed our website. This impacted the fourth bump in the road, the registration process, especially for the half-ice mites.
Anyway, things and people are doing much better and the process is running more smoothly. We still have some work to do internally, and we will keep you up to date as necessary and appropriate. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions! And --- HOCKEY. STARTS. NOW.
It’s the middle of the summer: BBQs, swimming pools, trips to the beach, camps, vacations, sunburn. There’s probably not much thought being given to hockey, although the 40 degrees in the rink felt pretty good the other night. But……things are already being done by your board of directors (BOD) to get ready for the upcoming season.
What I would like to talk about briefly is membership participation this year. While not everyone can or may want to serve on the HNS BOD, there are other things that you can become involved in that offer support to your youth hockey program. The program is quite fortunate to have very dedicated and competent individuals on the BOD, but the program could not succeed and grow without family support. Things that you can do for the program could entail actions such as: actively watching practice, engaging the coaching staff, discussing team issues by attending both team and BOD meetings, and offering up some time by volunteering. Volunteering could encompass team fundraiser participation/lead, being a team manager, participating on a committee. None of these should be time consuming, it will be what you make it, and your engagement will aid in growing this program. If you’re not sure how to proceed or what volunteer opportunities are available, ask a board member.
One other topic of involvement is the Question of the Month. ASK!! Your question may be one that several others also have, so, ASK. Send your question to either email@example.com or me, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to hearing from you and we’ll see you at the rink,
It’s been 6 weeks since the baton has been passed. I’m excited to be your association president and look forward to continuing to build a strong youth hockey program with both your help and cooperation. These past 6 weeks have been busy with player evaluations, team building, ice time discussions, and program integration. I would like to quickly address two important points.
First, we are actively engaged in rebuilding our U-16 and U-18 programs. The size of our bantam program and the continuing growth at the younger ages makes this an imperative.
Second, I would like to openly and actively promote a change in our thinking in relation to the various levels of skill in our organization. Simply stated, from my point of view, we DO NOT have a rec program in the true sense. If you look at our teams, other than the cross-ice mites, they all travel to and play the same programs. The only defining difference is the skill level. As such, we are trying very hard to make sure that each player is placed correctly and each team is slotted correctly in order to ensure a competitive balance and a positive game experience.
One last thing to mention is that we have instituted a “Question of the Month” and really would like your participation. One caveat – please phrase your question so that it applies to our program more broadly than to any specific player/team.
Thank you for your time, understanding, and consideration in these matters and I look forward to joining all of you in moving our youth hockey program forward and upward.