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2017-2018 Racers Elite Travel Information Released

02/02/2017, 2:45pm EST
By admin

Nobody knows how far a player will go in hockey when he/she is in grade school. The key to making sure players reach their potential has nothing to do with what level of competition they are playing against at U10 or U12. At the end of the day, the individual player will determine how far they make it through his or her hard work and ultimately his or her own performance.


There are two crucial elements required for a player to reach his or her hockey potential. They need to possess a passion for the game and the fundamental skills to be able to perform. U10 through U14 are critical ages for us to make sure that they have the best opportunity to develop both and form a solid foundation upon which to build. Below you will find information regarding enhancements to foster passion and develop the fundamental skills of our players. You will also find the expected benefits and rationale to support our program enhancements.



The largest and most obvious change that you will see, as we transform from the Strong into Racers Travel, will be new age group divisions. For a variety of reasons that we believe will all benefit our players, next season our birth year teams will migrate to a mixed birth year format. Age groups for the 2017-2018 season will be the following: U16 (midget), U14 (bantam), U12 (peewee) and U10 (squirt) teams.


All players hoping to play either AAA or AA will tryout as one group in the spring: Tryouts for the 2017-2018 season will be organized as follows:


  • U16 - players born in 2001 and 2002
  • U14 - players born in 2003 and 2004
  • U12 - players born in 2005 and 2006
  • U10 -  players born in 2007 and 2008


There will be no predetermined number of players of each age group for a given team. For example; if next year’s peewee majors will have a roster of fifteen skaters, and the top fifteen skaters at tryouts were born in 2005, those fifteen ‘05s will make the team. A player’s birth year will have no impact upon which team he or she plays for within their own division.


More details including tryout dates, coaches and estimated assessments will be released in the coming weeks. 


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Off-ice workouts per week





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In order to get all travel players on the ice with our best coaches and skill instructors, U10 (squirt) AA and AAA will skate together for all practices, similar to the current Indy Strong Blue and White team format. U12 (peewee) AAA and AA as well as U14 (bantam) AAA and AA will combine for a majority of their practices; enabling more players to regularly skate with our best coaches and keeping our assessments as low as possible. Both U12 and U14 AA and AAA teams will continue to skate weekly with our world class skating and goalie instructors- Serguei Zaitsev and Willie Mitchell. Combined practices will be led by head coaches of both AAA and AA.




We have been searching for ways to create a more competitive environment within our program to better prepare our players for hockey beyond U16 as well as life after hockey. Players will benefit by being in a more competitive tryout environment and having more variance on our rosters from year to year. We believe that with a mixed birth year format, we can do this while giving all travel players the same access to our best coaching and development curriculum.


While game competition is not, and should not be, the top priority in a program dedicated to player development, with larger pools of tryout participants, players will be able to compete alongside more similarly developed players at higher and more appropriate levels for all teams.


We are constantly searching and gathering information from the most successful youth development models in the world to create the best programming to challenge and develop all players in the IYHA. Because of smaller player pools at certain birth years, in many cases we have individuals at different stages of development playing on the same team. Changing to mixed birth year teams will not eliminate teams or development opportunities, nor will it push out willing and able participants. We aim to have the same number of teams as the Strong and Racers currently field. Evolving our format will lead to more effective and targeted programming for all players committed to playing travel hockey.



One of the goals of the organization is to create future business, community, and family leaders after they hang up their skates. With our current birth year format, if a player is born in December or is a late bloomer, they may never get the chance to act as a leader on their team. On the flip side, players in a birth year system that are always the oldest, biggest or most developed may never get to take on the role of “rookie” or be challenged for important roles and ice time. Varying roles while they are still developing is an important component to mental and social maturation. 


We look forward to mixed birth year teams creating more resilient young people as well as fostering an environment where all players get a chance to both be a leader and a “rookie” from year to year. As players progress toward hockey in high school, junior, college and beyond, they will encounter situations where their teammates are anywhere from three to six years older (and eventually younger). There are 18-year-old freshmen playing at all levels of college hockey alongside 24 and 25-year-old seniors. Likewise, local high school teams often have 14-year-old freshmen playing alongside 18-year-old seniors. Experience playing with players of different ages will only make the transition easier when the time comes to move on from the organization.

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