KALAMAZOO, MI -- The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) is pleased to announce the addition of one of its own to the Skills Staff for the 2019-20 season. One of the few Level 5 certified USA Hockey coaches in Kalamazoo, who played under one of KOHA’s original Directors, KOHA welcomes Curt Penny (back) to the staff.
Since 2009, Penny could be seen each weekend during the season on the ice coaching young players from Learn To Skate and Beginning Hockey through the 8U program. He was one of the original coaches (with the 2004 & 2005 birth year players) in the group that embraced the American Development Model (ADM) utilizing station-based practices and cross-ice games. Penny has some advice for parents, “Trust the ADM process. All players develop differently over different time periods. We are lucky in Kalamazoo to have great resources with USA Hockey and the phenomenal skills staff. I have seen first hand with my own son - as well as players I have coached - how the process has exceeded my expectations.”
Penny spent four seasons at the helm of KOHA’s 2005 K-Wings team, and guided them to an LCAHL Championship during their 12U A season. “After a year off from coaching, I am most excited to get back on the ice. I have been coaching for over 20 years, and that passion or itch never goes away. I am excited to get an opportunity to work with our younger players in the organization and create a fun environment for skill development and passion for the game,” said Penny.
KOHA’s Hockey Director, Matt Kakabeeke, said, “to have someone with Curt’s experience, connection to KOHA, and passion for teaching the game the way it’s played today, is invaluable. He is a fantastic addition to our staff that can help young players have fun and guide lesser-experienced coaches through the expectations of our development process.”
Anyone around Kalamazoo youth hockey in the 80s and 90s likely played with or against one of the Penny boys. Curt and his three younger brothers grew up in KOHA, and now Curt’s own son, as well as two nephews are following suit. The Penny family-owned Woodward’s Garage has long been a KOHA sponsor, and no doubt any family that has participated in KOHA over the last several decades has played on, or against, a Woodward’s Garage team.
After spending his youth hockey days with KOHA, Penny played for the Kalamazoo Blades, and then on Ball State University’s College Club team. While in high school, Penny coached a KOHA PeeWee House C team, igniting a life-long passion for teaching the game. After college, Penny returned to the bench, this time with the Blades as an assistant (1998-2001), and then as head coach (winning two SWMHSHL titles) from 2001-2009.
Penny has some advice for young players, “1.Thank your family for the opportunity to play the greatest sport on the planet. 2. Embrace the KOHA resources (Skills Staff, Athletic Mentors, etc.). And, 3. Have Fun and Work Hard.”
Penny lives in Three Rivers with his children - Olivia (16), Connor (14) and Kendall (12) - and is part owner of Eckert Wordell (Architecture, Interior Design and Engineering) in Kalamazoo.