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ADM Goes Global at USA Hockey-BioSteel Boys 15 Player Development Camp

By Seamus Kelley, 07/26/23, 4:00PM EDT


IIHF coaching exchange program provides a rewarding experience for all

The 2023 USA Hockey-BioSteel Boys 15 Player Development Camp brought a global feel to the Northtown Center in Amherst, New York, this summer. An initiative organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation, USA Hockey welcomed 13 coaches from Denmark, Italy, and the Netherlands to camp with the goal of helping to educate and develop coaches using the American Development Model to further grow the game and the principles championed by USA Hockey.

After a long day of trans-Atlantic travel, the coaches arrived at Buffalo Niagara International Airport on July 13 and quickly jumped into an action-packed week. At the rink, each coach was placed on a different team’s staff, who they stayed with throughout the week during practices, games and off-ice activities.

“Every one of us has felt so welcomed, and so grateful to be a part of the team,” said Lasse Thomsen, a Denmark Hockey Union coach. “You cannot be anything other than grateful for this opportunity.”

USA Hockey aspires that this program will be mutually beneficial for coaching and player development in both the U.S and elsewhere in the world.

USA Hockey aspires that this program will be mutually beneficial for coaching and player development in both the U.S and elsewhere in the world.

Dan Jablonic, USA Hockey’s manager of player development, served as the main host and point of contact for the international coaches at camp.

“Part of our responsibility as a leader in the ice hockey community is the exchange of ideas between countries of best practices to grow the game on a global scale,” said Jablonic. “From USA Hockey's perspective, that gives an opportunity not only for us to share what we're doing, but to also learn what these other countries are doing.”

The goals of this program for USA Hockey extend far beyond just the week that the international coaches were on-site in Amherst.

“Within this exchange, we wanted to give them a glimpse of our Coaching Education Program,” Jablonic added. “We gave them curriculum blocks from our level one (program) and went through that in the first couple of days. And it’s not just a one-week experience for them being at a national camp. It's something that will have touch points three months, six months, a year down the road. It’s going to be really fun to build that connection and share our great game.”

It has been an impactful for Jablonic knowing that this program will help improve coaches and players globally.

“It's going to make their players better. It’s going to make our players better, and the end product is hopefully a great experience for everybody,” Jablonic said. “It's been really rewarding.”

Thomsen and his peers are already looking ahead at ways they can implement different USA Hockey coaching methods within their own programs at home.

“The methods of long-term development, player development, that is stuff we're going to take back home and implement in our program,” Thomsen said. “Also, the way the week and the schedule at this camp is laid out for players, that something we're going to try to implement in our program.”

Thomsen also noted how rewarding of an experience the program was for him and his peers.

“We accomplished our main goal, which was to learn from, and be inspired by, USA Hockey,” Thomsen said. “Many of the coaches said to me that their passion for hockey has grown throughout the week, and being able to discuss hockey all day with so many smart hockey coaches was a fantastic experience.”

While most of the focus and time spent was at the rink, the coaches were also able to enjoy cultural experiences of Western New York throughout the week, indulging in Buffalo’s famous hot wings on a semi-nightly basis and making the trek to the Canadian border to take in the spectacle of Niagara Falls. 

Jablonic is hopeful that the success of the program in providing great experiences will help inspire expansion of similar initiatives moving forward to provide more coaching education opportunities at USA Hockey-BioSteel Player Development Camps down the road, both locally and abroad.

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