Off-ice amenities part of Renegades’ draw
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By Matt Mackinder
When it comes to architecting a successful youth hockey program, having a proper off-ice structure is many times just as important as what happens during games and practices.
That fact isn’t lost on the first-year West Coast Renegades (WCR) AAA outfit, which stocks everything an organization needs to help deliver an unparalleled developmental experience.
For starters, the Renegades practice and play out of Maverik Center – home of the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. The 10,400-seat facility features plenty of amenities built to benefit all of the program’s players.
The club also has a certified athletic trainer who works with the club’s four teams 2-3 times a week, depending on travel. The Renegades have also incorporated a yoga instructor into its developmental blueprint to help build the players’ strength and mobility.
What’s more, the club has partnered with In The Crease Goaltending and goaltending coach Mark Sample.
In addition, Derek Farr serves as the Renegades’ academic advisor. Farr, who teaches at Lone Peak High School where he also coaches football and basketball, keeps a close eye on the players’ transcripts to ensure they’re taking the necessary classes to play college athletics.
“Keeping the players engaged is important towards solidifying our future as a premier organization,” said Renegades 15U and 16U coach Adam Bartholomay. “We incorporate community service through free skating clinics, helping with Utah Rec League (URL) programs and with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
“Hockey is a game that, if you’re going to have success, your team needs to treat each other like family,” said Renegades 18U coach Steve Chelios. “If you have a close-knit group that enjoys being together, on and off the ice, you’re normally going to do well.”
The teams also play 3-on-3 mini-games where they benefit from learning on their own, according to Bartholomay.
“Developing without instruction from a coach is sometimes the best development a player can have,” Bartholomay said. “Getting back to the pond-hockey atmosphere gives the players a way to escape and enjoy the game on their own.”
“Small games are always fun because the players like competition drills,” added Chelios. “Playing 3-on-3 really allows them to understand what’s necessary in the defensive zone when you’re playing man-on-man, 3-on-3.
“We’re a first-year organization trying to make a statement that, win or lose, we’ll never quit. If we focus on fundamentals and are willing to communicate at all times on the ice, we’ll have a chance to compete at a much higher level.
“Our priority is not only to develop good hockey players, but more importantly good kids.”
The Renegades’ first free clinic in Ogden recently saw more than 30 players participate to learn more about the organization and its commitment to supporting the local community.
“We feel giving back to the hockey community is a big part of who we are,” explained Bartholomay. “Utah hockey deserves to have clinics to better the community and the players.
“Our one clinic was a great experience for the players who showed up and the WCR players who helped run it. We hope to enhance the URL programs here in Utah by providing more ice and instruction for the younger players.”
The URL program has players ranging in age from Mini-Mites to Bantams.
“We hope every player aspires to play Tier I hockey in the future, whether it be with WCR or elsewhere,” said Bartholomay. “We’re a development-based organization and hope to further the development of players here in Utah and the surrounding areas.”