IHAAZ unveils positive changes to format for upcoming ’17-18 season
Change is coming to IHAAZ this season, and it’s for the good.
One of the most notable changes on the horizon is the way the league will be run in the regular season.
The 8U and 10U divisions will remain the same to a degree, but the 12U, 14U and Midget/high school divisions will track the overall records of each team throughout the festival season, which will result in a regular-season champion being crowned at each of those three levels based on the standings after the festival in Prescott in April.
Tracking the standings will take the place of handing out gold and silver medals and individual awards at each festival.
The 8U and 10U divisions will still have medal ceremonies at each festival, but like the older divisions, their records will be tracked as well and regular-season titles will be awarded.
Nick Boyarsky, who is the league’s new tournament director and remains the president of IHAAZ as well, is excited about the changes that have been put in place as they will benefit the league.
“IHAAZ has been run like four to five stand-alone tournaments that end in a state finals tournament since the late 1990s, but in reality, it’s turned into more like a league or series over the past five years,” Boyarsky said. “Teams and programs make a season-long commitment and attend each event now, so it’s the same event each time as far as who you’re playing, which is a lot more like a league or series anyway.”
In the older divisions, more meaning will be added to each game under the new format.
“They will treat their five festival events like a super series and have their win-loss-tie points go towards earning the regular champions cup,” Boyarsky said. “Having teams fight for each point should hopefully make each game mean a lot more to these teams.”
As for the state finals tournament, the older teams will only get medals in that event, the hope being to ignite the competitive juices a little more in that tourney, but ultimately, the changes will benefit the league.
“We’re going to go all out with an awards ceremony for the regular season cup presentation, as well as recognizing some individual awards from the season,” Boyarsky said. “And we’ll be naming each age group’s first- and second-team rosters to highlight the play of those that stood out.”
David Lieb, who is the treasurer this year and also the administrator for the league, added that for the younger players, the league is looking into creating a series of pins that the players will receive at each festival.
Lieb said the plan is to continue with new designs each season so that it’s clear which festival each kid participated in. Also new this year will be the fact that league is creating a state finals pin.
The commemorative pins will be given at each festival and a special pin will be produced for the state finals.
There have also been a few changes made to the participant program-run IHAAZ board this season.
While Boyarsky remains the president, Erik Dahl from the Tuscon Jr. Wildcats is now the vice president of the board. Jeanine Hannon from the Prescott Storm is the still the league secretary.
Boyarsky, of course, is no stranger to IHAAZ. He has been coaching teams since the 1990s and is looking forward to his new job, although he admits he’ll miss coaching.
“This will be one of the few years that I will not be coaching individual teams in the series,” Boyarsky said. “As much as I will miss being behind the bench, I think there’s a lot I can offer both behind the scenes and at the events.”
— Brian Lester
(Nov. 2, 2017)