The tears rarely, if ever, flowed from their faces, but their speeches were heartfelt and thankful as the Class of 2013 was formally inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
The class included former Women’s National Team player Cindy Curley, Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, former college coach Ron Mason and former NHL forwards Bill Guerin and Doug Weight.
The star power wasn’t just limited to the stage. As present for the event were current NHL executives David Poile, Brian Burke, Jim Nill and Jim Rutherford, among others, and past U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Chris Chelios and Keith Tkachuk.
The inductees all reflected on their past experiences and what induction into the hall meant to them.
“When I got the call that I was inducted, I was in my car and I had to pull over,” Guerin said. “It reminded me of all the people who helped me get here, who helped me in a positive manner.”
Karmanos was the one of five who never played the game, and made that known early in is speech.
But that doesn’t diminish what he has been able to accomplish. His dedication to the game has helped in grow on both the youth and professional levels. His Compuware AAA midget teams have been greatly successful, as has the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. He reveled in what those he has worked with have also accomplished, including a Stanley Cup victory in Carolina in 2006.
“As a builder, you don’t have many stats or many medals, but you do get lots of rewards seeing those you work with get stats and medals,” he said.
Curley was one of the greatest women’s players on Providence College history. Here 225 points rank third in school history. She was a pioneer in the women’s game.
She talked about growing up and how her mom didn’t want her to play hockey, trying instead to steer her daughter toward calmer activities.
“I’m thankful my mom’s attempts to have music and trampoline lessons failed,” she said.
In her speech she recalled a time when a boy from her trampoline lessons shoved her, and she shoved back.
“My mom said that sticking up for yourself was a hockey trait,” she added.
Mason talked about how his coaching career almost never happened. He was in graduate school working toward becoming a teacher.
One day, he decided he didn’t want to go down that path.
“I came home one day and told my wife I was sick of school,” he said. “I told her that maybe I’d be a hockey coach and she said, ‘Well you don’t have any experience.’”
The rest, as they say, is history. Mason had success at three programs, accumulating 924 career wins, the second most in NCAA hockey history.
Weight, along with Guerin, was part of the golden age of American hockey players. He won a Stanley Cup in 2006 and an Olympic silver medal in 2002.
He talked about one of the defining moments of his childhood, the “Miracle on Ice” team that won gold in 1980 and how that inspired him.
“I’ll never forget sitting in our living room watching that game,” he said. “It changed my life. There was nothing more I wanted than to wear that USA sweater.”
But, perhaps most notably, Guerin and Weight made it known the respect they have for each other and how close they remain even in retirement.
Weight quipped that they wrote nearly identical speeches. Guerin joked, “We do nearly everything together. I played for Team USA, so he played for Team USA.”
But it was Mason who had one of the most notable quotes of the night. When talking about his success as a coach and how he inspired his players, he said it wasn’t about how many games you won, but just winning the next game.
“If you don’t care who gets the credit, it’s amazing what you can accomplish,” he said.
Sept. 1, 2015 | More than 40,000 spectators, plus a national television audience, watched the Little League World Series this past Sunday on a glorious afternoon in Pennsylvania. There were smiles, cheers, entertainment and the noticeable absence of demand for those 12- and 13-year-olds to pitch from 60 feet, six inches or run 90 feet between the bases like their professional baseball heroes.
Right-sized baseball and softball fields, along with age-appropriate rule modifications, have been accepted wisdom in youth baseball for more than 50 years.
Coincidentally, while Little League was paring to its finalists, U.S. Soccer announced a nationwide initiative to improve youth skill development. The centerpiece was a shift to small-sided game formats and field sizes to be phased in across the country by August 2017. As part of the new plan, American soccer at U6, U7 and U8 will be played 4v4 on a pitch approximately one-eighth the size of an adult soccer field. Nine- and 10-year-olds will play 7v7 on a one-quarter-scale pitch. Not until age 13 will players begin competing 11v11 on a regulation adult-sized pitch.
“Our number one goal is to improve our players down the road, and these initiatives will help us do that,” said Tab Ramos, U.S. Soccer’s youth technical director. “In general, we would like for players to be able to process information faster, and when they are in this (new) environment, they are going to learn to do that. Fast forward 10 years, and there are thousands of game situations added to a player’s development.”
With this change, American soccer will join sports like baseball, basketball, hockey and tennis, all of which have embraced the skill-development benefits of age-appropriate playing dimensions and competition formats (see chart below).
Those benefits are at the core of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, which was recently praised by the Sports Business Journal as a “trailblazing program.”