DYHA’s Lil’ Devils youth program showing immense growth
Hockey continues to explode at the youth level in Arizona and a major part of that growth can be seen with the DYHA’s Lil’ Devils program.
Designed for players that are Mite-aged and older who have completed the Little Howlers curriculum, the Lil’ Devils is picking up steam in Tempe, and parents could not be happier.
One parent, Duncan Hardy, said his son Callum is having an “incredible time” with the Lil’ Devils.
“I did not grow up with hockey and have never played, so we were flying blind a little bit, but through the information provided by Matt Shott with the Coyotes following Little Howlers, we were able to find out about Lil’ Devils,” Hardy said. “At first, I was concerned that my son would be a bit young and it might be too much for him to handle, but that has never been the case. Chris Sehring at DYHA described the program and how it is not competitive, but they really work with the kids based on their ability.”
Hardy went on to say that seeing Callum’s face every time he’s on the ice makes him realize he made the right decision coming to the Lil’ Devils.
“In terms of what makes it enjoyable for Callum and I, it is just great knowing that he is having fun,” said Hardy. “He always asks me, ‘Is there hockey tonight?’ We get to spend time together, I can see him improving a little bit every day, he is never bored, and the coaches work so well with the kids. I know that it is a program that we will continue to be involved with until the coaches tell us that our son is ready to move on to the next level. That being said, we are not in a rush to move on.
“Really, the whole program is about learning the basics and having fun with a great group of kids from all different levels, with an excellent group of coaches.”
Sehring said being involved with the Lil’ Devils is very uplifting.
“The kids are what really makes the program special,” he said. “As coaches, we get to be involved with a player starting to learn to love the game and to me, that is the most gratifying part. We try to make sure all our players come off the ice with big smiles and wet heads.
“Every time I see a player be able to do something that they have been trying to do for some time, I smile. It’s that life lesson that you keep trying until you succeed that I love seeing happen.”
Wong noted that the Lil’ Devils program is more than hockey, too.
“I think the program continues to grow due to the sense of community that the program brings,” Wong said. “What makes me smile is definitely seeing the kids laugh on the ice. When they score a goal or make a great pass or complete a new skill, that smile and sometimes laugh is contagious.”
For Hata, like Sehring and Wong, seeing the kids enjoy getting on the ice with a yearning to get better is what it’s all about.
“Player are provided an outlet where they can comfortably and continually work on their individual skills and have opportunities to interact with each other and learn to compete with those of similar skill set,” Hata said. “These Lil’ Devils players are constantly moving and never stop. This is what makes the Lil’ Devils program exciting for our players.
“At the end of the day, above all, it is the parents who help our program grow by entrusting us with their players to becoming a good citizen and great hockey players.”
— Matt Mackinder
(March 4, 2019)