CAHA proving to be ‘truly amazing’ family, community
Over the course of the long hockey season, teams become more than coaches and players.
They become families.
The Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) is the perfect example of this.
More than a game, these teammates and families help each other cope with hard times, both on and off the ice – through job losses, family crisis, illness and even death.
The Coyotes Development Program is grieving the death of a longtime player who died in a car accident in January and the Jr. Coyotes are uniting to support a member who is currently battling cancer.
“We continue to build a strong culture of respect and teamwork and continue building a hockey community that players and families want to be a part of,” said CAHA director of AA travel hockey Kenny Corupe. “In our program currently, we have a player battling cancer. Our teams are doing their part to help their Jr. Coyotes teammate – from Facebook posts, to GoFundMe campaigns, to players writing personal get-well letters, to team photo collages with player wishes, moments of silence. We even had a 7U player asking for donations in lieu of birthday presents because ‘there is a Jr. Coyote who is hurt, and we help our teammates.’
“This community really comes together when one of their own is in need.”
“Last month, we lost a house player to a tragic car accident and our program has again done all we can to honor his memory,” added CAHA executive director Kristy Aguirre. “At the request of this player’s family, a special fund has been set up where people can donate to honor his memory through donations to the sport he loved. Many supporting letters have come in to the program, mostly from where this player’s grandparents live. Truly amazing to see people coming together to support a family through a difficult time.”
And while wins and losses on the ice are part of the CAHA experience, developing as young individuals off the ice is a major component of the organization as well.
“Activities to come together are naturally happening at the team level through service projects like volunteering at food kitchens, and hosting food and blanket drives,” said Aguirre. “CAHA is implementing more and more opportunities for teams to get more involved in the community.”
All of CAHA’s teams and families support one another through the season.
“We do many group exercises involving the kids and parents – teaching the importance of what it means to respect your team and your teammates,” said Corupe. “We did an activity where the players were asked to write down what they liked about their team and what makes them happy to be a part of the team. Answers ranged from how great it is when someone says, ‘nice job’ or ‘thank you for helping me’ or ‘working hard together in a drill to become better.’
“I think the parents realized how positive reinforcement is what makes a child feel confident and showing support even if it’s not your child goes a long way – all lifelong lessons for our kids and parents. At the end of the day, hockey is a game and always will be, but being part of the hockey community is a special thing to experience.”
CAHA families share a unique bond created during early-morning practices, unlikely victories and tough losses.
“It is as a team that the support structure is formed,” said Aguirre. “It begins with the program, the hockey directors and the coaches. The team does the work and comes together to be whatever they set out to be. It takes effort, attitude and a common goal and vision to make it a successful season. Priority No. 1 is coming together, working together, and creating the best path of success for every participant, on and off the ice.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 27, 2019)