I attended the USA Hockey Affiliate's President's meeting via Zoom on October 15. The meeting was attended by all the presidents throughout the U.S. Jim Smith and Pat Kelleher presided over the meeting. We are not the only state that is not playing hockey. Some of the affiliates are playing full schedules, some abbreviated and some not at all. This is not just an Illinois problem.
Both Jim Smith, USA Hockey President, and Pat Kelleher, USA Hockey Executive Director, told us that we must follow the restrictions placed on us by our local governments. We were told not to be irresponsible and not to ignore them. This pandemic goes far beyond children playing hockey. People are dying, people are living with permanent damage from the illness, businesses are closing, people are losing their jobs and their homes. It is SERIOUS.
We are not indifferent to your concerns, but we also have an obligation to follow the government's lead and be responsible for not only hockey, but to the potential victims of "silent carriers". We are now entering a phase which mirrors what happened in the beginning of the year. France, Italy, and England are surging. Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois seem to be spiking as well. I hope I am wrong, but it seems that we are headed backwards.
As for what AHAI has been doing or done to help reduce the risk level and get our kids back on the ice, we have been busy.
1. Many months ago, we created a plan to present to the state entities that have determined the risk level that hockey has been assigned. This plan lays out many of the points our members have made to include:
a. Use of locker rooms, rink operations
b. Social distancing, wearing masks
c. The actual level of contact in hockey
d. The fact we do not touch the same common object
e. That we wear protective equipment (basketball does not)
f. The fact we have been skating for many months with minimal issues
g. Several other key points
2. We have made several attempts to get this in front of the state entities (IDPH and DCEO). We have reached out to them directly.
3. We have collected several studies done on actual contact in hockey that USA Hockey has provided us to share with the state.
4. We have spoken to many other USA Hockey governing bodies that have been successful, and those that have not been, in getting games allowed in their states.
We absolutely understand the frustration. This is not a USA Hockey or AHAI restriction, this is a state restriction. As I said, USA hockey has told each state to follow their state guidelines and bring hockey back safely. We have been doing just that. Regardless of who governs hockey in Illinois, hockey games are not allowed in the state. In Illinois, high school football is king. The state did not allow football to be played so this makes our task much more daunting. We assure you we are not giving up on efforts to move hockey out of the high-risk category.
We will keep trying to get back to "normal" whatever that may be. Please try to understand this and support us. We will get through these horrible times if we stick together.
As some hockey resumes to varying degrees across the country, it includes varying levels of play and opportunities. It has also created situations where there are teams looking to fill rosters for games and contacting AHAI rostered players to fill those spots for game(s). Players and families may be contacted by Tier I or II Youth or Girls organizations outside of IL asking to play in showcases, tournaments, or other forms of games. If the games are USA Hockey Sanctioned, they require USA Hockey Certified rosters including all participating players and coaches.
If any of the AHAI Rostered players participate in any sort of USAH Sanctioned game with an affiliate in another state, they jeopardize their status in Illinois/ AHAI. If they play with any other team on that teams USAH certified roster, they may not return to their Illinois team.
To clarify the definition of a game, it is a contest between 2 separate rostered USAH teams that uses one or more officials, is played under USAH Rules and Regulations and a time clock is used regardless of the length of periods. This includes league, tournament, showcase, scrimmage, practice, “friendlies”. All USAH/AHAI Sanctioned games require both teams have an official USAH roster.
If independent teams are formed to play in non-USA Hockey sanctioned events, AHAI has no governance in those situations and the statements below do not apply.
All AHAI Affiliates were notified 9/29/20 of the issue of AHAI rostered players being recruited to play on teams. They were instructed to notify their members of this issue at that time
It is critical that our members are aware of this restriction If you are aware that one of your players participated with non-AHAI teams in USAH Sanctioned games inside or outside of Illinois, please contact AHAI through your AHAI Organizations registrar with the specifics. Any participation prior to 9/29/20 will receive an exception so as not to punish families that may have been told inaccurate information. Participation going forward as of 9/29/20, Could result in your player being restricted from returning to your team for the remainder of the season.
We are pleased to announce that Kevin Bolger will serve as President of the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois, Inc. Kevin's vast experience in the Illinois hockey community will serve our membership well during these unique and trying times.
Kevin began coaching in the House League at Winnetka 27 years ago. He progressed through the Winnetka Program serving on the Board of Directors as Wishbone Tournament Director, Director of Development, Legal Consultant, Director of Personnel, Coaches Selection Committee, All Star Committee, Vice President and President.
From 2004 to 2011 he served on the Loyola Academy Hockey Board holding positions as Registrar, Chairman of R&E, Coaches Selections Committee and Secretary. In 2003 Kevin was appointed to the AHAI Board of Directors to fill the vacancy of Sarah Teuting.
Prior to taking the helm as President, Kevin most recently served AHAI as Vice President of Hockey Operations and Chairman of the Suspension & Review Committee. Kevin has also served on the Tier II, Showcase, Screening and Appeals Committees.
Additionally, Kevin's experience as a Criminal Defense Attorney, former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney and Chicago Police Officer provides him with the broad experience necessary to fulfill the role of AHAI President and achieve the goals of Illinois Hockey.
Kevin was inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 for his myriad contributions and exceptional dedication to hockey in Illinois.
"There are many ways we can improve this great game and grow our sport in the coming years. I look forward to serving the Illinois hockey community and representing your interests in the State of Illinois." - Kevin Bolger, AHAI President
The AHAI Board of Directors want to take this opportunity to reach-out to all of you to provide an update on the current status of ice hockey in Illinois.
The challenges relating to the Covid-19 pandemic are daunting and ever-changing.
The AHAI Board empathizes with you and understands there are a myriad of Covid-19 related issues which created a series of challenges for rink facilities, leagues, clubs, parents, and most importantly players, that are not just unique – they are unprecedented.
While we all wish that hockey could return to “normal” this is simply not possible at this point in time. And none of us know when “normal” might be possible.
We want to make it clear that AHAI, in its role and responsibility as the governing body for amateur hockey in the State of Illinois, is in contact with medical experts and policy-makers in the State of Illinois to consider all avenues to (1) keep everyone as safe as possible, and (2) explore options to offer the membership as robust and as full a hockey experience as possible in the current environment.
AHAI will not trade safety for expediency but we want you to know that we are working on your behalf.
The A Step aHead partners are excited to announce the 10th year of our program! We are proud of the work that has been done to educate our youth hockey community about sports safety and provide free baseline neurocognitive testing. We look forward to another 10 years of working to keep our athletes safe while they play the game they love.
This year the free baseline testing will be offered from August 1 through November 30, 2020. We will continue to offer the testing at select Athletico clinics. Please click here for additional information. Registration for baseline testing will open soon.