To our Lady Ducks Family,
2016 was another growth year for our Lady Ducks! It’s hard to believe that we can keep this up, but our families amaze me, every year. We now field 12 Girls Teams in the program as we were able to add another 14u team AND we have 2 Track level SCAHA 8u teams! The Lady Ducks continue to outpace the USAHockey projected growth for Girls’ programs. And…. we have two WOMENS teams that are both Nationally competitive (2015 National Champions!) making that 14 female teams overall.
Each year our 14aaa, 16u and 19u teams travel to various showcases to set the stage for college hockey recruitment and opportunities in the future. We have continued to expose and prepare Lady Ducks (from 8u to 19u) toward collegiate hockey. These girls are pushing through a path that demonstrates perseverance and toward reaching their dreams! All of our athletes at 14aaa and older are writing letters to college coaches, sending their tournament schedules and even making phone calls to learn more about various schools and their offerings.
The Lady Ducks program holds our Annual College Development Camp in April this year which is a must for all girls 2003 and older (and some 2004/AAA) who plan to pursue being a student-athlete in the future. A handful of NCAA coaches will be here to work with our players for 4 days and give female hockey players from the West a chance to feel what it’s like to be around a college-style environment and frankly, gain confidence in that situation.
Our 14u program has seen a 3rd team develop and grow better and better as the season has progressed. It is always hard to break new ground and start another team. These 14u teams will make for some excellent competition at the 16u level tryouts in Spring!
Many of you may not realize the impression we are making across the country. USA Hockey has visited us a few times and are astounded by the level of play and how we have produced so many girls way out west! We are a MODEL GIRLS PROGRAM even though we are far away from the 10,000 girls in the midwest or east coast. Our tiny program-that-could has fielded 4 players to the 18u National team in the last 5 years. We have more than 30 players, EACH SEASON, playing NCAA College hockey and many others in ACHA (competitive collegiate club hockey). None of this is by accident… our coaches, players, managers, and other support staff, help to make this all possible. Our players work hard to achieve their goals and compete at a school that fits their style of play and academic interests.
How do our young players become great older players? Well, if you are the parent of an 8u, 10u, or 12u and she wants to be involved in college hockey in the future my best advice to you is this:
1) Get SKILLS training, weekly… don’t skip it. The entire process of development, just like in school is as follows: work on skills daily (classwork/practice) , do some homework (math, reading, science, etc…/ puckhandling, conditioning, shooting, etc…) , prepare to compete (tests/games) and don’t hover over your kid (you probably don’t bang on the table at home when they get a math problem right, do you?). This sport and having a future in it IS A MARATHON, not a sprint. Most kids who are great at 7 or 8, are not often the stand out at 17. Really. Of the 13 or 14 Lady Ducks playing in Division I college, right now, 6 of them STARTED hockey at age 9. They were amazing at age 14-15-16… Their development, over time, gave their natural talent the consistent nurturing it took to let that talent blossom.
2) Don’t coach your kid in the car or pre-post-game. Its unnecessary. (Do you do this at school? Do you hover outside their classroom making sure that they remember to reduce their fractions?? J ) Actually, most of our NCAA Division I bound athletes have parents who do the LEAST “coaching or hovering”. Learn from that. Let the team’s Coaches coach. Parents get to drive, buy pizza, cheer, post pics on FB and of course see their child doing THEIR BEST to play a very challenging sport that teaches discipline, triumph over struggle, defeat and Getting Back Up, teamwork, respect, long-term goal-setting, and much more.
3) Don’t miss practice. A player will touch the puck and practice a skill 200-300 times in an hour practice. A player will touch the puck and demonstrate a skill about 15-25 times in a game. If you don’t believe me, make a chart and COUNT their touches. 3-4 practices missed are equal to almost an entire SEASON of games. Games are more fun, but not more valuable.
4) Don’t be that parent. Maybe your parents didn’t pay attention to your sports, maybe they paid too much attention. Studies show that parents who are hyper-involved tend to burn their kids out, or as kids are quoted: “ruin the fun for me.” Parents putting TOO MUCH value in every move their kid makes in sport, or have issues with 30 seconds missed because their kid was pulled off to get immediate instruction, or are frustrated with a coach being too hard or too soft, are often missing the point of playing a sport. I used to wonder and often be upset that my mom sat and did the NY Times crossword puzzle during my tennis matches! How can she not watch my every point??? It drove me crazy at times and I kept working harder and harder to become the best I could be. Well, I made it to Division I at USC, where we managed to win the NCAA championship and dominate most of college hockey in the 1980s. Sometimes our SC coach was so TOUGH, sometimes he was our best friend. He was coaching us to be resilient and manage our minds. Funny, my mom told me years later that she was often nervous for me during matches and couldn’t bear to watch or make me nervous. She also said that I put enough pressure on myself that she never wanted me to feel pressure from her… so it would be fun and I would LOVE to be out there. She was right.
5) It takes a Village. Families and Parents want to raise their children and want the very best for them. The Lady Ducks Program was founded on the philosophy that if we build a family, we have older girls to look up to, younger girls to inspire and 20-30-40 years of growing this sport of a lifetime! We are almost to year 20. If it wasn’t for the loyalty and long-term commitment of our players’ families to stay together, this wouldn’t be possible. If it wasn’t for the countless hours of infrastructure work from the 3 or 4 people who do most everything AND the managers and coaches each year, this wouldn’t be possible. How do so many Lady Ducks go to college to play? They fly together, creating at atmosphere of teamwork and growth. Some play Division I; some Division III; and others Club hockey. NO ONE remembers the score of any particular Lady Ducks game, in any particular season. BUT, when I see Lady Ducks graduate from high school and commit to college, who have played since 12u, 10u or even 8u TOGETHER I see a family of sisters. They will know each other for life, they see each other back east when they compete with and against one another. It’s a fabulous thing. And, I look forward to seeing many more years of this.
I want to thank our entire Coaching Staff who continue to grow as the times change and the instructional practices move forward! It is a challenge that we all work hard to meet and improve upon. Again, the LD program sets a NATIONAL standard with our number of female coaches, both former LD players returning to the program and other top collegiate women who have come to California to become a part of this and make us all even better. All of you are pushing the girls to be their best.
Finally, It was exciting last fall to be featured in segments of both Anaheim Ducks Weekly program and CaliRubber magazine as our program was honored by USA Hockey as a MODEL Program. These spotlight opportunities speak to the impression we are making throughout the hockey world. Someday, in the near future, there will be other programs, we see them this season, finally popping up in So. Cal and I know that our work and strides made over the last 15+ years will continue as the foundation of great So Cal female hockey. You should be proud of this too… you are a Lady Duck!
Looking ahead to 2017 I want to wish everyone great success at MLK weekend coming up soon! I know that we all will have challenges and obstacles as well as opportunities and successes in the coming year. Remember to look at each with your eyes open. Commit to make yourself a better person every day… not just a hockey player… a person. Strive to reach your potential and along the way and through this great sport, may the ride be fun and challenging and all you hoped it would be!
Happy New Year to all our Lady Ducks and extended families!