Unlike Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in “The Abominable Snow Rabbit,” Adam Sherlip wasn’t lost in the Himalayas, nor was he disappointed to find a frozen pond. In fact, the New York native found exactly what he was looking for in the mountain ranges of Ladakh, India, on the world’s highest natural ice rink.
It’s there that Sherlip brings hockey to the Ladakhis.
Raised on Long Island, Sherlip is a USA Hockey Level 4-certified coach with a passion for changing lives. He’s been doing it in remote hockey outposts since 2007, when he was part of a New York Islanders youth coaching contingent in China. Two years later, he founded a non-profit, The Hockey Foundation, to cultivate the game in underserved communities and non-traditional hockey markets around the globe. Since 2011, he’s trekked annually to Ladakh, where he uses USA Hockey’s American Development Model to teach boys, girls, men and women in a region where players once used rocks for pucks.
He spoke about his far-flung coaching experiences at the recent NHL World Cup of Hockey Summit, calling attention to the progress he’s seen in Asia and India, where more people – especially women – are playing the game.
“For the first time ever, India had a women’s hockey team that played in the Challenge Cup of Asia this year,” said Sherlip. “We weren’t solely responsible, but we were dramatically impactful in the growth and development of girls hockey in that area, which is gratifying.”
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Sherlip is driven to empower players and enrich lives. Connecting it to his own childhood hockey experience, he sees USA Hockey’s modern coaching methodology as a better way forward.
“The hockey culture on Long Island is deep and my youth coaches were all old-school coaches – and not in the good ways,” said Sherlip. “At the time, I didn’t understand it. Years later, when I started coaching a youth team in Queens and going to USA Hockey coaching clinics, I could see a new way of teaching focused on what’s best for the players, and I liked it. It wasn’t about coaches getting their wins. It was about age-specific learning and an emphasis on skill development, puck touches and creativity.”
As Sherlip progressed through USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program, he experienced the typical coaching challenges, like overzealous 10U parents, and some not-so-typical, like profound cultural differences in Ladakh. It was all part of his ongoing development.
“Boys and girls are different, and everybody is different when it comes to their experiences or culture, so you learn what it actually means to be a coach,” he said.
His thirst for knowledge brought him to USA Hockey’s 2016 National Hockey Coaches Symposium in St. Louis, where he began the march toward Level 5 certification.
“I’m always looking to improve and learn, and all of USA Hockey’s CEP events have been helpful,” said Sherlip.
He will soon bring that growing toolbox of knowledge on another trip to Ladakh, where he hopes to make the region’s hockey enthusiasts increasingly independent. After that, he can turn his attention to other underserved hockey hamlets, both stateside and elsewhere, where The Hockey Foundation can further its mission.
It’s an off-season that continues to be full of changes, reactionary and planned, as all of us in the USA Hockey Officiating Department forge forward in the new normal. Our efforts are consistently focused on ensuring safety, fun and development for players, coaches and officials.
One issue that continues to arise is the abuse of officials and the effects it has on retention. To counter and help improve the environment, USA Hockey’s rules sub-committee has been focused and committed to solutions.
This sub-committee was established to define and recommend programs to confront this problem. As a result of this, a first step was taken at the recent Annual Congress to amend the Zero Tolerance Policy. Several proposals were made and adopted by the Board of Directors to constructively confront this problem.
These changes strongly recommend things like game officials introducing themselves to the coach during warm-ups in order to start the communication process and set some guidelines for in-game communication.
The parents/spectators section was amended to clearly state the behavioral expectations of this group. Another strong recommendation added to this section was to establish a parent/spectator monitor by each local youth hockey team for all games. Ideally, this monitor will address and de-escalate parent/spectator behavior before it impacts the game and the officials have to stop play.
Also added, a reminder to administrators that they are responsible for taking any appropriate disciplinary action towards parents/spectators that are removed from a game as a result of a violation of the Zero Tolerance Policy.
Navigating New Norms
As we all still grapple with the effects of the pandemic, the Officiating Program has been working to develop effective ways to fulfill our educational responsibilities when it comes to the annual registration process. To that end, the only process that provides educational value and a safe environment is with virtual seminars. A format and curriculum was developed and approved by the District RIC’s. This was distributed to all of the District RIC’s for implementation as they see fit. Due to the many different and ever-changing restrictions around the country, if the situation arises where in-person seminars can be held then the District RIC can also schedule them as needed. The Virtual Seminar Program is the best solution for this season. As situations change, the Officials Section will revisit this program for all future seasons.
Every Tuesday, the Officiating Education Program will present an hour-long webinar on various topics of interest and importance to not only USA Hockey’s officials but the entire membership. These panel discussions will cover topics such as abuse and zero tolerance, communication, player safety, as well as items such as game management and positioning within the three recognized USA Hockey Officiating systems. Panelists will include some of the top officials in the country and other experts from the hockey world whose goal will be to inform, entertain and encourage the USA Hockey community to learn more about officiating.
Getting officials from their first year to their third season is a key focus for the Officiating Education Program. Helping officials understand the basics of the craft and giving them a supportive resource is what the Mentor Project is all about. USA Hockey is helping local Officials Associations put together the framework where a mentor gets matched with a new official and works with them not only in their first month or second, but is a constant resource for the new official throughout their first couple of seasons. Learning about how to read the rule book, navigate the challenges of getting assignments and become a proficient official are all goals of the mentor project.
Again, we hope everyone is safe and sane as we prepare for a different landscape of hockey – but we are excited to welcome it, and you, back to the game.
See you at the rink!
Tag(s): ADM Features