New Titans program goes from ‘longshot’ to ‘dream come true’
The Arizona Titans have taken the ice.
A first-year program playing out of AZ Ice Arcadia, the Titans came together over the spring and summer months to give Valley youth hockey players another option to grow and develop, both on and off the ice.
AZ Ice Arcadia director of hockey operations Justin Rogers heads up the Titans and also coaches a pair teams this season.
“This season has been a blast to be a part of, although stressful as you can imagine,” said Rogers. “What started out as a longshot turned out to be a dream come true. The first task was to find a name – which proved to be one of the hardest parts – but I was a Titan at Arcadia High School, as was my dad (Jim). It seemed fitting to start over as the Titans, and it left the door open to build to a high school team in the future.
“Second, VOSHA needed to find a solid coaching staff as they would become the foundation of the organization and helping the vision come to life. Michael Hensdell was the first on board to help rebuild VOSHA from the ground up, and one of the Valley’s most established powerskating coaches was the perfect place to start. From there, Mike and I worked to build the coaching staff that we have today.”
The Titans will have nine teams this season, three of which are Tier II. The coaching staff includes Jim Rogers (6U), Garrett Stephenson (8U, 10U), Justin Rogers (12U Minor, 14U Minor), Steve Majercak (12U Major, pictured), Jarred Smith (14U AA), Hensdell (16U AA), and Rob Kerns (18U AA).
“We will be striving to develop our players in all skills from skating to teamwork,” Justin Rogers said. “Simply put, our goal is to develop better hockey, one player at a time. We want our players and teams to develop and improve over the course of the season, giving each player the best opportunity going forward. We will achieve this by running USA Hockey’s ADM (American Development Model) with station-based skill practices and off-ice workouts. We want to ensure that all players are being pushed to their full potential.
“Success for us this season is making a name for the organization and simply being able to compete with the teams across the Valley. We want VOSHA to be an option that everyone considers come next season.”
So what will make the Titans a viable program for the 2018-19 season and moving forward?
“I believe our emphasis on skill development sets us apart from other existing hockey organizations in the state,” said Justin Rogers. “VOSHA has already proven to be sustainable, and I’d venture to say that having Jim Rogers (current VOSHA president) at the helm again has helped. He helped build the organization years ago and is determined to keep it alive. His love for the game and offering kids across the state a better and affordable chance at competitive hockey is a motivator for everyone.”
And with the season here, the Titans have hit the ground running.
“We have had our fair share of hiccups along the way, but everything from setting our practice plans and designing our gear for the season has been an absolute treat,” Justin Rogers said. “Three months ago, people were doubting we would even be able to field a team, but fast forward to now and we have at least one team in every division from 6U through 18U, and all are competitive in their respective divisions.
“VOSHA has been around 20 years, but it’s never easy to rebuild, so it was all hands on deck. Being able to see the love and support for the organization, the rink and hockey in general has made it all worthwhile.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Sept. 21, 2018)