Our Mission is to provide the youth of the City of Long Beach and surrounding communities an affordableplace to play ice hockey while maintaining afocus on having fun, quality coaching andcontinual skill development throughout all levels.

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 Summer practices are going well and one thing I am impressed with on ice is how our staff’s have designed age specific practices for the levels they coach at. 
 
Mites are learning what mites should be learning and their practices are very specific for that age level and skill level.  Likewise I see the bantams are being pushed a bit out of their comfort zone while being put through drills that test and improve fundamentals.
                 
 There are always some speed bumps from summer hockey into the first month of the season but I like how the organization has gone about getting things done.  On and of ice needs are being handled efficiently.
                 
 I’m proud to announce that our first coaches meeting will be next week where just about the entire coaching staff from every team will gather together to talk about curriculums, share ideas, exchange drills, and formulate and organizational player development plan.  Implementation of the USA Hockey ADM philosophy will be discussed as well as the recent changes and updates announced by both USA Hockey and the NYSAHA.
                 
 There are several things that make a good coach.  Our goal is to make sure our coaches teach our players what they need for the level/age they are at and have them ready to challenge for spots next season when they move up a level or move from minor to major.  Some of the things we will encourage from our coaches are what I feel are hallmarks of successful youth coaches.
                 
 Making the on and off ice environment a fun place to be is paramount.  Kids will want to be at the rink and will be that much more successful if they enjoy where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.  Hockey is fun game, being on a team should be a great learning and social experience.  We implore our coaches to be tough, be hard, but be human.  We want them to develop a culture where their players want to be at the rink.

 Coaches need to make sure they walk the walk.  They need to back up what they say to build trust with their athletes.  We encourage honesty and integrity from our staffs but furthermore, we encourage our coaches to interact with their players.  Making a connection with each player is a challenge and I hope our coaches will interact with the players at the rink before practice to get to know them as people.

 While the coaches are in charge I know they are open to hearing what their players concerns are.  Giving players some ownership of their team is important; it eliminates the feeling that they just show up and get told what to do.  It allows players some responsibility and most important how to handle it.

 Lastly, parents are an important component.  While no parent has the right to tell a coach how to coach they certainly should be able to ask the coach “Hey, how is my child doing?”  I like when our coaches communicate with the families.  It doesn’t have to be daily, but whether it is good news or bad news communication helps facilitate an environment of trust.  I know every coach has his own policy of parent interaction.  I also know that with this being an emotional game discussions with a coach after a game are never a good idea.  LBAC has a 24 hour rule and this was approved by the coaches as their preferred policy.  Managers are always good to talk to about some issues, and both Joe Brand and I will assist where needed.

 Coaches need to let parents know when they have “office hours”, meaning when they can set up a time to talk to parents.  Parents need to respect the parameters set by the coaches regarding discussions about their players.  Parents should utilize the managers when they can as some problems can be handled efficiently at that level.  At the older levels like bantam, players should be encouraged to go to the coach and openly talk in lieu of a parent getting involved right away.  Let’s encourage our emerging young men and women to talk to their coaches.
                 
 When it comes to hockey I trust our coaches and their decisions. I know I speak for Coach Brand as well in this area.   
                 
                  Puck drop isn’t far away.  LBAC will be ready.
                 
  Some side notes:  The first is that I couldn’t be more thrilled for Coach Brand and the success of Brand’s Deli.  Make sure to support Joe in his new venture.  The ice coffee is fantastic and the sandwiches are great.
                 
  There is a new health food store in the West End on Beech Street next to the Speakeasy.  It is called Eden Harvest and I suggest checking it out.  Between the products and the ideas the owner has to support local musicians and artists it is well worth stopping in.  Ask for Mike, tell him Starman sent you.  Full disclosure is that Mike and I have been friends for 41 years; we’re only 44.
                 
  Lastly I’ll toss out a trivia question.  Two Long Beach area residents have connections to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  One is me but you knew that.  The other was a member of our last Stanley Cup winning team in 1967.  Can you name him?