AJH, known as the Aspen Leafs, was founded in 1972 by John McBride with one team of 15 players. Today the program has grown to over 300 participants and 19 teams. Since taking the helm in 2013, Executive Director Shaun Hathaway has made tremendous strides strengthening the program, which includes construction an impressive off-ice shooting facility, establishing the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League with a team in Aspen (proving a post-graduate development option for players), and securing the manager of youth hockey in Finland (Kalle Valiäho) for a 6-month sabbatical in Aspen. Throughout the season, Coach Valiäho will work exclusively with AJH players and coaches, providing his expertise and knowledge to help solidify a world-class youth program in Aspen. This season, Hathaway was also able to secure the coaching services of Blake Hull (Bantam A) and Dayn Belfour (Pee Wee A), both sons of NHL Hall of Famers (Bobby Hull and Ed Belfour). “I think the key will be to follow through on what we’ve built to ensure we continue to execute at a world-class level and take advantage of the things that are in front of us, stated Hathaway. “Today we are focused on a 10-year plan, and it starts with our younger players. Look at them in 10 years and tell me how much they’ve achieved, and that will be the proof of our current achievements.”
Players can start as young as age 4 and continue through the ages of 19 (girls) or 20 (boys). this season there are 231 kids enrolled! Boys can play after they graduate high school in the U-20 league which provides a special opportunity during a time of major life transition. our nearly 40 coaches are there for the players both on and off the rink.
The Aspen Leafs currently compete in the rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League (RMJHL), continental Divide Youth Hockey League (CDYHL), and Mountain States Girls Hockey League (MSGHL). averaging 30 games per season, which runs October to March, means that hockey is a big part of the week! Many might think the travel schedule a turn-off, but in reality we only travel about 4 games over the entire season. this is more manageable than some other sports.
THE GIRLS GOT IT
Girls’ hockey is the fastest, most graceful and creative team sport on earth. This season we have 82 girls crushing it on the ice! AJH was the first Club in Colorado to offer girls only hockey and currently boasts one of the largest programs between California and Minnesota. All teams (except 8U and 10U) participate in the Mountain States
Girls Hockey League (MSGHL). The Leafs also offer a competitive 14U AA (Tier-2) team, one of only five in the entire Rocky Mountain District.
AJH really wants to make hockey accessible to every kid and is working hard to fundraise and reduce overhead costs. Currently AJH gives out around $30,000 in
scholarships each year. We also use our fundraising to subsidize the operating budget so that even players who don’t receive a scholarship are benefiting from a reduced price. The starting tuition for the 2016-17 season was $510 not including gear or any scholarship reductions. Prices go up as players get older. the heart Part of the AJH mission: “Players perform at their highest
intellectual, physical and emotional capacity in the rink, and that performance positively impacts their character and life off the ice.”
Part of the AJH mission: “Players perform at their highest intellectual, physical and emotional capacity in the rink, and that performance positively impacts their character and life off the ice.”
AJH has created in depth Development Plans that are completely tailored to each age group. We utilize the longterm athletic model (LTAD) as the foundation for player development. Instead of focusing on immediate results, AJH is committed to a long term approach – a process that is firmly focused on the physical and psychological growth of participants. Everything from monitoring growth (to track growth spurts) occurs regularly during this stage by measuring height (every 3 months for 10U players, every 6 weeks for 12U players). Children, youth and adults need to do the right things at the right time to develop in their sport or activity – whether they want to be hockey players, dancers, figure skaters or gymnasts. (LTAD) describes the things athletes need to be doing at specific ages and stages. Long-term tracking helps to correctly identify PHV, which helps AJH provide its players more effective individualized and differentiated instruction based specifically on the “windows of trainability.”
“Based on the science supporting player development, the ideal time for athletes to acquire hockey specific skills is 8-12 years old. After 12 years old, the “window” of trainability to proficiently learn hockey specific skills begins to close.”