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Second-year Renegades program growing youth game in Utah

 

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The West Coast Renegades youth program enters the 2015-16 season finding itself well on its way to becoming a source of pride in the hockey realm for the state of Utah.

During the summer months, the Renegades staff was hard at work tying together pieces that had fallen apart and derailed prior Utah youth hockey organizations. The Renegades’ goal is to not take away from other organizations, but to give the players in the state something they can be proud of and look forward to at the Tier I level.

Collaborating with three other organizations – Park City Ice Miners, Utah Jr. Grizzlies and Davis County Golden Eagles – has created a good, healthy standing relationship amongst the different organizations, which is something that has not happened in the state for some time.

“Developing the youth of our state is very important and we feel working with everyone gives us the opportunity to focus on the younger players,” said Renegades director of hockey operations and 16U AAA head coach Adam Bartholomay. “This collaboration means that we are all doing the right thing for all the right reasons, which at the end of the day, means for the kids that play the game here in Utah.”

Park City Ice Miners director of hockey Aaron Dufford echoes the sentiments expressed by Bartholomay.

“We’ve had bottom-up growth issues in Utah for a number of years – that’s no secret,” said Dufford. “Rather than pulling from each other, one organization against another, we’ve found that working together, sharing visions and ideas has righted the ship. In the end, we’re only as good as where our players progress to beyond our organizations and state. With a collaborative effort, we feel that we provide a better atmosphere for our Utah players and a higher potential for progression to the next level.”

Dufford added that joining the four programs makes the most sense and he’s excited to see results come to fruition in the near future.

Renegades co-owner and president Joe D’Urso is elated at the direction his program is going in just its second year of existence.

“Focusing and collaborating with other coaches and organizations is important for the Renegades and the future of Utah hockey,” said D’Urso. “It was our mission not to just provide a Tier I club in the state, but to also focus on the youth and the community of hockey within Utah. Our mission has always been to develop young hockey players on the ice and to make them better citizens off the ice. We feel as though we share the same philosophies with these other youth programs that do a great job at developing players and kids, which is why we chose to work with them all in the first place.”

The Jr. Grizzlies Pee Wee AA team is the first collaboration between organizations this season and starts the foundation for future development in Utah.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for both our players and our organization,” Jr. Grizzlies president Joe Minnock said. “This partnership allows us to combine the strengths of both the organizations and create the best environment to maximize the players’ development. We are grateful for WCR’s willingness to try novel approaches as we all pursue the goal of making Utah’s youth hockey players among the best.”

Still, when all is said and done, it’s the players and their families that will benefit the most from this union of teams.

“Working together with other programs is a huge success and joy for us with the Renegades,” Bartholomay said. “Providing kids with multiple coaches and more ice time to further develop their game is a win-win for everyone. We are very excited for the future of Utah and what it holds for our young athletes.”

— Matt Mackinder