In the Community - On and Off the Ice:
Q&A with Chicago Hawks Hockey Club President- Melissa Surrette
On and off the ice, the Chicago Hawks Hockey Club exemplifies professionalism and an ongoing commitment toward the development and promotion of youth hockey. As one of the largest youth hockey clubs in the state of Illinois, managing the club is not easy feat. Melissa Surrette from early beginnings as team manager to now president of the club understands the work it takes from all facets of a youth sports organization. We were fortunate to talk to her about her role with the Hawks and reflect on what separates this organization over any other youth hockey club.
Achieve: How did you get involved with Chicago Hawks Hockey Club?
Melissa: Growing up my brother played travel hockey, so I was familiar with the sport. It was my husband who suggested we get our two boys involved. That was ten years ago! Early on one of my kids made a team that needed a manager, so I volunteered. I really liked being involved in the organization and eventually joined the Board. Over the last seven years, I have served as the Club Treasurer, Vice President, and this will be my third season as the Club President.
Achieve: The Hawks offer several hockey programs for all ages and skill levels: from Beginner Hockey to Travel & Elite Tier II, can you talk a little more about these programs?
Melissa: Most young kids start in our Learn to Skate program with some kids being as young as three years old! Many do not know how to skate at all. They wear hockey gear but are really just trying to master the basics and stay on two feet! From there, there are a few levels of skill development that a player goes through before they join a "team." Once they are on a team, they can choose to play in-house or travel. Last year, in addition to the Darien House League, we fielded 33 travel teams for girls and boys of all ages and levels of ability.
Achieve: Concussion Management has been a strong topic of discussion across all sports, what are some initiatives the Chicago Hawks have taken to make the game safer?
Melissa: Hockey is a contact sport. As much as we try to avoid them, injuries happen. As more and more information about the impact of head injuries has become available, we decided that we needed to seek advice from experts to make sure that we are doing whatever we can to protect our players. Partnering with Achieve has been a game changer. The level of attention to each player, from their baseline test to any required follow-up, gives our members and the Board confidence that we are taking the right steps in an effort to ensure player safety.
Achieve: How important has it been to have Steve Poapst, a former NHL defensemen for the Chicago Blackhawks and an Illinois Hockey Hall of Famer, serve as the Director of Hockey Operations and Player Development for the Chicago Hawks?
Melissa: Steve is invaluable to our program. He has experience coaching and playing at every level of hockey and really focuses on player development. All of our programming is centered around giving our players the best opportunity to improve their skills and reach their goals. Because of his extensive playing and coaching experience, he brings a long-term view to player development and also recognizes that we are not just developing hockey players, we are developing people who we hope will have positive future impacts on their communities.
Achieve: What would you say to a parent who is looking to get their son or daughter signed up for hockey?
Melissa: Do it!! In our lobby at Darien Sportsplex we have a banner that says "Development. Team. Success." That really sums it up. Boys and girls who play at the Chicago Hawks develop hockey skills and the skills necessary to be a valuable member of a team. That formula equals success on AND off the ice.
To learn more information or to get your child signed up with the Chicago Hawks Hockey Club, please visit their website: www.chicagohawks.com