Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mite Registrations Plummet

Deep Concern Over AAU Impact Revealed in AHAI Board Minutes

By CAYH Editor

Here's a rule of thumb for ya:

Blackhawks win, kids try hockey, USA hockey registrations go up ... rinse and repeat annually.

This has been true for the past 5 years of the Hawks success on the ice. No longer. The numbers are in, and they ain't purty.

AHAI finally got around to posting some Board minutes from this season. In the October 6 minutes, we learned "that registrations are up about 480 this year over the same date in 2013" according to Bob Mathson's Tresurers report.

That is 0.2%!!!


By way of comparison, we know from Chris Peter's excellent United States of Hockey Blog (see here and here) that Illinois has been growing registrations at a rate of about 5% per year over the last 5 years. Further, the growth rate accelerated to 8.4% last season (2013-14). Did the Blackhawks affect suddenly stop working? What's going on???

Yes those numbers do include adult registrations, which are growing. Those adult registrations will mask some of the youth registration losses when the final numbers come out for this season. The bottom line for youth hockey is gruesome:

By using last seasons numbers it has been estimated that possibly as many as 4,000 Mite players may be lost to AHAI/USAH this season. AHAI will continue to strive to put its best Mite product on the ice in an all out effort to bring these Mites and their families back. Applying the rule already in the books, no Mite will forfeit a choice by leaving their current Mite club if said club no longer offers an AHAI Mite team. AHAI will keep a database of all such players with this issue that can be referred to should a 2nd choice need to be granted at a later date in a players career.
[sic] Also noted that at this time, there are 18 Clubs and 38-40 Mite teams committed to playing in NIHL for the 2014-15 season.

Source: AHAI BOD Minutes from August 8, 2014

It turns out that that last bit was optimistic, as there are 29 Mite teams listed on the NIHL web page. The concern about AAU's impact is voiced several times in the three meetings that had minutes posted recently. From the October 6 meeting:

Jim indicated that the new AAU Mite League website is up and there are 19 Clubs, 3 Divisions with 2 Tiers plus House teams.

A quick visit to Chicago United Hockey League shows 58 teams. If we assume 15 players per team, that is 870 Mite registrations gone from AHAI/USAH this season. So, hey, it wasn't the unmitigated disaster that 4,000 would have been!

So what is the bottom line impact? From the Treasurer's Report in August 8 minutes:

Bob noted due to projected loss of Mites a small loss estimated to be $13,000. Bob made a motion to approved the Budget with the $13,000 deficit to be covered by the Reserve Fund. This motion was seconded by Kevin Bolger. Chuck Smith suggested that the Board closely look at areas to trim expenses.

AHAI needs a plan to stem the bleeding. From the September 8 meeting:

Don Allord will be spearheading enquiries to clubs about what AHAI needs to do to keep Squirts in the USAH family.
Chuck Smith distributed 3 proposals for Mite surveys to the Board.

Eh, we'll get back to you.

If you are curious, here is some of the fat the Board found that they could trim and, hey, it's your money after all.

In steps to further guard AHAI spending Bill asked that the Board look into: necessity of the current number of AHAI cellphones in use; creating an AHAI investment policy; looking into Board approval for checks over a certain amount that were not already approved in the budget. 

Oh. My. God.

If you are interested in our previous column on this topic, you can find it here.

You should follow me on twitter here.


  1. A follow on from USA hockey, registrations were up 2% nationwide:


  2. As always, lawyers on this ahai board all think they know . How about listening to the customer and you wouldnt have this issue! Instead you have helped create competition that wil grow each year and take away from ahai. Its called common sense, something lawyers have no clue. Now just continue to read your law books!! Rediculous.