All of Fort Wayne's youth hockey programs are reorganizing under a new banner and nickname.
Representatives of Parkview Sports Medicine and the Parkview Icehouse announced the formation of the Fort Wayne Amateur Hockey Association today which is taking the place of Fort Wayne Youth Hockey, the Fort Wayne High School Hockey Association and the Canlan Ice Sports youth programs.
A new 10-member board of directors will include three representatives from Fort Wayne Youth Hockey, three from the Fort Wayne High School Hockey Association, one at-large member and one each from Parkview Sports Medicine, Parkview Icehouse and the Fort Wayne Komets.
The travel teams will be known as the “Force.”
Parkview Sports Medicine will be the naming sponsor. The reorganization is the brainchild of former Komet and Director of Athlete Development at the IceHouse Kaleigh Schrock and Parkview Sports Medicine Director Tommy Schoegler who have been working on the project since March 2016.
“I think this is a hockey town at heart, and it's important to update the organization to what the other top programs in the country and region are doing,” Schoegler said. “Our program has not evolved as times have changed and this gives us a fresh start.”
Neither Schoegler or Schrock will be on the board, but Schrock will be the director of coaching for the FWAHA. He'll continue to run the rink's house league and work to bring current and former Komets in for specific skills clinics and to work with teams.
During the early 1990s, Fort Wayne had one sheet of ice at McMillen Park and between 1,500 and 2,000 youth hockey players. Now the city has three sheets and less than 500 players, Schoegler said. Everyone fights for the same resources, ice time and players instead of working together.
“When I took the job in August of 2015, I thought it was set up where we were all under one roof and I learned very quickly that it wasn't,” Schrock said. “My goal now is to push our better kids into travel which will make the high school product a lot better. High school and travel will not be competing any more, and we'll be giving kids more options to be on the ice.
“It's important because now that we're all on the same page we have more options to do different things. Kids that want to play at the recreational level we can make it better for them, but we also want to hold our travel and our better teams to a higher standard.”
Representatives of the organization talked with similar hockey program directors throughout the Midwest and with former Komets who are running similar groups.
The association will also have five committees: Compliance, fundraising and marketing, scheduling, future planning and coaching.
The 10 board members are President Craig Scully, secretary Dr. Steve Lee and directors Tom Bunn, Jeff Blakely, Peg Campana, Jim Glick, Rick Gnau, Michael Ledo, Scott Sproat and Rick Wynn. Seven of the 10 members do not have children who currently play hockey in any of the programs.
The association's first event will be a skills camp at the IceHouse on May 6 and 7 at $20 per participant. The group's website is FWAHA.org.
For more on local sports, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.