Previous Travel Team Surveys revealed that there are a number of topics that require clarification. This memo is an attempt to clarify some of the confusion.
Q: The program is called the DARIEN Youth Hockey Association. Why does DYHA accept players from other towns?
A: DYHA is a local youth hockey program that gives priority to players from its “resident towns” of Darien, New Canaan, and Norwalk. Both of our local rinks are privately owned as opposed to municipal owned rinks such as Stamford that have residency requirements.To the extent that there are players needed to fill out the teams to fill available ice commitments made to contractually purchased ice, families from other towns are sometimes accepted off of the waitlist and once they are, they are treated like all other members.
Q: Why have tryouts for most teams been moved from the Fall to the Spring? And why does the season start so early in the Fall?
A: It is very difficult to schedule tryouts during a period that is best for everyone and conflict-free. DYHA is a firm believer in giving our players the ability to develop over the 6 month period from finish of one season to start of the next season. Unfortunately, our ability to continue with this timetable has been restricted due to the following:
Competitor programs have now scheduled almost all tryouts in the Spring and continue to market their programs to DYHA players such that they can promise our players certainly about team placement earlier than we could.
Parents are increasingly trying to schedule their kids activities multiple months in advance of the season beginning and not only want to know the team their player will be on but also what the schedule will look like.
Creating the team in the Spring allows the team to knows its members and perhaps start practicing, on an ad hoc basis, or attend summer camps together that will help create better team chemistry and bonding.
It is still DYHA's belief that all players, irregardless of the team they are on, should continue to pursue skill development over the course of the off season, in addition to their other activities.
Q: Why is the travel season so long?
A: As long as DYHA agrees to play in the CT Hockey Conference, we are subject to the demands of their related schedule. The official CHC season (in terms of games that qualify as official CHC games that determine state tournament qualifications and standings) begins October 1 and runs through early February. Teams are generally required to play each team in its division twice. That requirement combined with parents and players’ desire to participate in a couple of away tournaments and avoid games during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks (unlike many of our neighboring Tier II and Tier III programs), dictates a game schedule that runs for at least 5 months. The scheduling of state tournaments – something that we cannot control – is spread out and generally results in some teams playing state tournaments games in late February while other teams must play into late March.
We have been an active proponent of reducing the number of CHC games required and starting the CHC season later, but unfortunately we remain in the minority with that particular point of view.
Q: Why aren’t all travel coaches paid non-parent coaches?
A: First and foremost, our goal is to put the highest quality coaching staff available on the ice. The DYHA program is fortunate to have several qualified parent coaches who understand the game, have a great deal of coaching experience and are among the most dedicated and well-respected coaches in the program. In addition, DYHA carries more travel teams than any other program in CT. It is extremely difficult to find qualified paid coaches for all teams and thus qualified parents are a cost effective option as Assistant Coaches and in limited instances, Head Coach. Furthermore, typically our parent travel coaches are volunteers which aids all DYHA members by keeping our base fee and travel supplements as low as possible. If we turned every head coach into a paid position, we would increase our program costs significantly.
Q: Why don’t travel teams have some bye weekends?
A: We have explored the possibility to schedule bye weekends. Unfortunately, because of the demanding CHC schedule that requires reciprocation for ice with other programs, and our commitment to avoid games during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, it is difficult to block out entire weekends for a team. Having said that, this year we were able to schedule bye weekends for 3 or 4 travel teams. As mentioned earlier, all travel teams did not schedule required games or practices during Thanksgiving break and the 10-12 days of Christmas break.
Q: What really goes into the travel tryout evaluations?
A: Travel player candidates are generally evaluated by coaches who coach elsewhere in the program as well as paid coaches who will coach that particular team and a non conflicted Board member that oversees the evaluation process. Parent coaches, unless they have a returning playing on that particular team, are excluded from the early evaluations in all cases and all tryout sessions in most cases. In addition, detailed player evaluations (that follow a standard form) are now completed by all head travel coaches the prior season and carefully reviewed by the new season’s head coaches. These travel team evaluations discuss players’ skills, teamwork, coachability, attendance and effort. In addition, house coaches are encouraged to recommend their best house players that intend to tryout for travel.