KALAMAZOO, MI - The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) is pleased to announce the return of two veteran coaches for the 2019-20 season: Matt Kakabeeke with the 12U AA (07) KWings and Ryan Penny with the 12U A (08) KWings.
Both coaches are not only KOHA alum, but have coached in the program and hockey community for years. Kakabeeke serves as KOHA’s Hockey Director and Penny has been on KOHA’s Board of Directors for several years. Their commitment to age-appropriate, long-term athlete development is evident in the way they approach leading their teams.
“Our club culture from a coaching perspective has evolved as the development model demands different strategies to teach the way the game is being played at the highest levels. As a model club, we have access to resources within USA Hockey, like Bob Mancini, that make me not only a better coach, but a better coaching director. Bob is my mentor, he works with our club, on the ice, on a regular basis, and I am able to take that knowledge back to our skills staff and team coaches to make our club better. We have a thriving hockey community with a vast amount of hockey knowledge, and we get better by learning from and working with each other, “ said Kakabeeke.
“I have said for several years now, our 07 boys are special; and not just the ones that have worked for spots on my KWings teams the last three years - all of them. It’s a special birth year. We have been fortunate to have terrific families that embrace our process - utilizing Coach Mancini’s mentorship, I experiment with our group before implementing development modifications and strategies association-wide. I am thankful that the boys work hard and that our parents support what we are doing. Every year, these boys give back to me more than they know as we learn from, and with each other. I am thankful I get the opportunity to continue to positively impact the players and people they are becoming,” said Kakabeeke.
Under Penny’s leadership, the 2008 K-Wings have seen tremendous success. “The growth of the 08 birth year players the last two years has been terrific. After winning Districts and taking the boys to the oldest rink in North America for the MAHA State Tournament, I am excited to continue to be a part of their journey on and off the ice. As a KOHA alum, being able to experience the way KOHA has committed to coach mentorship and athlete development while providing these kids with the best opportunities to succeed, is truly special. I can’t wait to see what the 2019-20 season brings,” said Penny.
Fall tryouts for the 2019-20 KWings teams begin May 20th and registration will open by April 5, 2019.