First State Flames Q&A • Part 2
What are First State Ice Hockey’s main concerns for the upcoming 2020-21 season?
The current state of uncertainty for youth sports is perhaps the biggest. There are still major concerns surrounding health and safety where large numbers of people gather together. Leagues are exploring alternative start date strategies (Sept. 1, Oct. 1, Nov. 1, Dec. 1), but as a matter of fact, we simply don’t know right now when the season will begin. We developed our strategy to give us the flexibility to respond as the environment changes — if need be, we can start later and play later into spring. Ability to adapt quickly is key right now.
Let’s face it, youth team sports that take place indoors are most likely way down on the essential industry list for now. But with that in mind, we designed our program in such a way to minimize risks outlined by guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
• focus on player development
• minimize distance travelled
• manage team sizes and interactions
• focus on safety and health
• provide selectivity with respect to teams and venues engaged
Our second major concern is an uncertain economic environment. Revenues for state and municipal governments have taken a huge hit due to the pandemic. That loss of revenue will trickle to the private sector. Corporate staff reductions could happen, and many small business entities are on the brink of closing. We just don’t know what the short term holds. That said, our tuition costs are significantly less expensive than other clubs, and we are hopeful that can help families deal with this financial uncertainty.
How do your season fees stack up against other clubs in the region?
At $1,150 per player, our average tuition costs are between 40 and 50 percent lower for the 2020-21 season compared to local Tier 2 programs. Our tuition also includes the cost of a home and away jersey, which isn’t the case for other clubs.
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Keep in mind that all the agreements families will be asked to sign over the next month are designed to be financially binding and offer you little recourse once they are signed.
What level of teams do you expect to compete against?
That really depends on the skill level of our teams. We are primarily a developmental organization, so we will consider stretching our players in game situations. As an independent organization, we have a great deal of flexibility and will do what is in the best interest for developing our players.
What if I am already pre-registered with another club? When will I be allowed to pre-register for the Flames?
It is our interpretation that you can pre-register with multiple clubs, but you can only sign an agreement with one club by the designated dates.
We anticipate our registration link to be available in early June.
Does First State Ice Hockey have any plans on establishing a girls’ hockey program?
An important part of our mission is to grow the sport in the state of Delaware. In order to do that effectively, we need to provide developmental resources to everyone. Our intention is start with specifically designed clinics to build interest and a solid skill foundation. It is possible that we will field off-season Inferno girls’ teams to further enhance hockey IQ in a competitive setting.
We are currently interviewing coaches who would be specifically responsible for helping us build a girls’ youth hockey program. Our hockey director, Sean Cannon, at one time coached the West Chester University women’s ice hockey team.
There are concerns about First State Ice Hockey being a “start-up” organization. How would you address some of those concerns?
Obviously, no one can predict the future, and that is especially true in our current environment. All we can do is attempt to minimize risk and maximize return on investment. Under the current pandemic environment, we feel you are much more at risk financially by entering binding agreements to pay tuition prices that are almost double ours.
To maximize your return, we have assembled a team of individuals who possess great talent in coaching, business administration, finance and communication. Our team is perhaps the best in the state for our industry.
We have a short-term plan and a long-term plan, and we know how to execute them in a highly effective manner. We feel we are poised for success.