Mission Statement: Why more 16U A teams would be a major benefit to all
This level has all but disappeared in our town and I am doing all I can to keep it alive, as I truly feel it is an important step for so many kids.
Look at the numbers of Bantam teams in our town this year in the AZYHL.
Eight teams currently are competing at the non-tier level. The problem is the next natural level of progression for most of these kids is 16U A or AZYHL.
We currently have only two teams at this level and more and more players are being left with no real travel options.
Most of these level kids are being pushed to high school hockey where practice ice can be scarce, and development can be limited.
Our town is basically saying that if you’re not at a certain level by 15 years old, it’s time to give up and settle.
I just don’t buy that.
I have had too many players in the past who needed that A level of hockey to develop and went on to play college or junior hockey.
Andrew Songstad, who is currently playing at Arizona State University, had two years of 16U A-level hockey before he was ready to play 18U AA and now, college hockey. His development came later, and the 16U A level kept him in competitive hockey.
Kids develop at their own rate and I have found how essential this year has been for so many.
Players and parents need to be educated and organizations need to keep players in their fold to continue essentially a big developmental year for their players.
So here I am in Pittsburgh at a tournament with eight 16U A teams across the country. That is what I am forced to do in order to get these kids some competition that will help the process.
Our town might not understand the need for it, but it is clearly still an important component for so many across the country.
We, as a town, get really caught up in the AAA piece of the pie but by doing that, we are not giving so many kids the opportunity to develop after their Bantam years.
It is necessary for our town to understand that our A players need dangling carrots and options to play, just like our AA and AAA players.
Jeremy Goltz is the coach-in-chief for Mission AZ Hockey.
(Nov. 12, 2019)