Northstars strive to leave every game with championship mindset
Win or lose, the Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association (FYHA) is dedicated to providing every interested Flagstaff youth with an affordable, quality instructional athletic program that focuses on character development, on and off the ice.
Their model works to promote teamwork, build self-confidence, develop and encourage sportsmanship, teach fundamental skills and improve the standard of youth sports in a safe, non-threatening environment.
It begins with the organization’s board of directors and all-volunteer coaching staff, and continues through each level of hockey. FYHA facilitates a “Student Coaches” program for players ages 13-17 to mentor younger kids, and promotes team camaraderie between Major and Minor players with integrated practices.
Many FYHA coaches take it a step further, like Matt Gibbs, head coach for FYHA’s 10U Major and 10U Minor teams and 14U team.
“I didn’t like the idea of calling teams Major and Minor, so I gave them names of Blue and Gold,” said Gibbs. “We’re really approaching this season as one team.”
Gibbs has both teams on the ice for practice so that the more skilled Major players can help push players on the development team. He also started the season with players developing an additional code of conduct for themselves.
With Gibbs emphasizing character and heart, the FYHA 10U Minor team earned respect during their AHU Icebreaker Tournament play for never giving up despite losing significantly to a more skilled 10U AHU Black team.
“Our kids didn’t quit for two reasons,” said Ryan Gearhart, FYHA board member and parent of a 10U Minor player. “One was their heart and two, because their coaches didn’t quit on them.”
FYHA embraces a quote from Alexander Den Heijer: “Champions don’t show up to get everything they want. They show up to give everything they have.”
— Heather Gearhart
(Oct. 25, 2017)