2020-21 WC Hockey Strategic Plan

Q: What have we learned throughout the pandemic? A: Everything is changing constantly; we never know what is next and answers to our questions prove difficult at best. I’m writing you today to change this cycle; this is the Winter Club Hockey 2020-21 Fall Season Strategic plan. 

First, a brief education on AHAI (Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois), NIHL (Northern Illinois Hockey League), NSYHL (North Shore Youth Hockey League), AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and the CUHL (Chicago United Hockey League). AHAI is a governing body of a hockey in Illinois and NIHL and NSYHL are leagues governed by AHAI. AAU is another, completely separate, governing body of hockey in Illinois and oversees CUHL, the Mite hockey league. 

However, one entity has complete control over all of the leagues, clubs, and all hockey organizations; this is the State of Illinois. Since the restrictions in regard to youth sports have been handed down by the Governor’s office, we have all been doing our best to decipher these guidelines without much clarification from AHAI or AAU. The message we’re receiving from AHAI is that they will certify rosters on the normal timeline, therefore, if something changes, we’ll have our teams in place and ready to go. 

Now, moving away from the governing bodies and the leagues, it’s clear we will not be playing a regular season we’re all accustomed to having. However, this does not stop us from having a really fun, exciting and competitive season. First, WC will still hold conditioning clinics and tryouts as scheduled, teams will be selected, and we’ll be set to go quickly if league play happens. 

Once teams are selected, we will be skating out of LFA and Tilt Studio in Gurnee as we have done in the past. Even if league play is delayed or doesn’t happen, we can keep our players engaged and loving hockey. We will be dividing up our age levels into competitive groups and all players will be divided up evenly amongst the groups. Each of these competitive groups will have an average of 6 players, give or take 1 or 2 depending on numbers in a specific age group. These groups (which we will let players decide on their own group name) will be put into competitive game-like situational conditioning drills one time throughout the week. We’ll be calling this the Winter Club Competitive Situational Drills (WCCSD). Once per week they will practice with their respective white or green team, another ice slot during the week will be the WCCSD and then a rotating practice slot where both teams share the ice for a practice every other week. 

Once we hit the ice at the Winter Club, we’ll continue with our WCCSD and our team practices along with Monday night skills run by Jimmy and I. At the WC, your player will be getting Monday night skills, a team practice, and a WCCSD practice. 

We all understand we may need to adjust this plan throughout the season and if there is a change in the decision regarding league play, we will drop the WCCSD practice during the week and convert this into a white or green team practice to be better prepared for league games.   

As you can see from the above mock schedule, players will be getting shared team practice and full-ice team practices from the start of the season. They’ll also be enjoying the “game-like” WCCSD practices to promote that competitive spirit and build a team like atmosphere around the group that players have been placed into.  

This season may be honestly one of the best situations your player can be in with the current pandemic. They’ll be in smaller groups on the ice, have more consistent ice time throughout the season, be outside after October and you won’t be traveling to play hockey. Players will get a league and game-like atmosphere in the WCCSD practices and they’ll feel as if they’re actually playing in a league. 

With challenging times comes a lot of creative and different ideas. Different does not mean less and it is important to know our costs for the hockey program are fixed. Please understand our fees will not be changing. We may jump into league play at any time based on a decision made by the state and since we need ice outside of the Winter Club to accommodate all of our teams, we have purchased ice upfront at the start of the season. 

I am so excited for this season and to continue helping your players develop and play hockey. I believe we will come out of this season with even more passion and love for this sport, great friendships and amazing skaters. We are in such a unique position with two outdoor sheets of ice and may look back on this season as one of the best hockey experiences our kids have ever had. Thank you for the continued support and please call if you have questions or would like to discuss further. To allow families time to consider the plan we’ve laid out, hockey registration will be extended to August 23rd.