Its hard to believe that another hockey season is upon us. I want to welcome back all the returning members and all the new members of the BAHL. As I am sure most of you have noticed we had a busy summer at the rink. Most of the interior of the rink got a new coat of paint. There still are some items that still need to be painted but we ran out of time and man power and will have to tackle the rest next summer. Other improvements and repairs included new vent fans, roof vents, replacing a leaky section of the sprinkler system and electrical work. Unfortunately, one of the compressors needed replacing which was an unexpected expense. Upgrades and improvements will continue as our finances allow. Improvements and repairs have already totaled around $60,000 this year.
Two of the key issues that will be addressed this year and into the future are growing a stronger vibrant youth hockey program and developing a strategic plan to address our aging ice arena.
I believe in order to grow our youth program the league needs to expand the base of players by developing an affordable, stay at home house-based program that is similar to other youth sports program in Billings. The league continues to have success with the free learn to play hockey program and has actually had some marketing dollars to work with this year. A school-based program to draw kids into the arena is currently being looked at for development. This program would be modeled after a program that was started by the Newark Ohio Hockey Association called Score for Schools. Ideally, we would like to have 50-60 players in each of our age groups as this would allow the league to have 4-5 strong competitive house teams. With these type of numbers an upper level travel team could be formed in the upper age groups. To get there I am sure there will be some growing pains but in the end the youth program will have a well defined program that will stand on its own year after year.
The first strategic planning committee meeting will be held this week to discuss how to address the future of Centennial Ice arena. I think that this is one of the most important issue that needs to be addressed. Centennial Arena is near or at its end of functionality. Repairs and replacement costs continue to go up year after year and in the near future there will be a catastrophic failure to the refrigeration systems. A plan needs to be developed on how to either replace Centennial Ice Arena or make major renovations to the facility. If you are interested in being a part of this process please contact Eric Barnhart who is committee chairman.
I urge all our members to become involved in the BAHL. You are our best supporters and our best recruiters for our league and we need your involvement and support. Be involved in committee, support the gun raffle, bring your friends to the rink, recruit new players and enjoy the great game of hockey. Let your kids be kids and let them enjoy everything the game of hockey and youth sports has to offer.
As always, I have an open door so please feel free to give me a call or send be an email anytime. Hope to see you at the rink.
Glen Korf sent me this parent’s tip of the week and I thought I would pass this on to everyone.
“Your children's youth sports experience will end, and it may happen suddenly. Hopefully, you will not look back and think, "I wish I had enjoyed it more instead of obsessing over performance, or playing time or the team's record. Enjoy the experience; it will end too soon.”
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