The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) is pleased to announce two of its head coaches for the 2018/19 season. Please help us in congratulating Matt Kruzich as he returns to take over the JV program, and Jeff Timpe as he takes the reigns of our 10U A KWings.
“We are excited to have Matt back in our coaching mix once again,” says Matt Kakabeeke, KOHA’s Hockey Director. “Kruzich brings history and a wealth of playing and coaching experience back to our program and we are looking forward to the leadership and stability he will bring to our JV program, “ said Kakabeeke.
Kruzich played his youth hockey days with KOHA before heading to AAA, Juniors, and eventually, Michigan State University, where longtime MSU Assistant Coach - and current KOHA Skills Coach - Tom Newton got to know Kruzich. “As a developing player at MSU, Matt had a very good skill set and a good understanding of the game. He was extremely coachable with a likable personality, and I believe all of that translates well as a coach,” said Newton.
“I grew up in Kalamazoo. I still live in Kalamazoo. My passion for the game started here with KOHA. I coached with KOHA at various levels for over a decade,and have coached at the AAA level as well. I am excited to be returning to the JV team and to continue to develop the players in our association as they prepare for their next steps,” said Kruzich.
Jeff Timpe is also a KOHA alum, and is on his third “round” (and 11th season) of coaching in KOHA. Timpe coached learn to skate through mites while playing High School hockey, and then was on the bench as his oldest son came up through KOHA. Most recently he has been on the ice with his younger son, Jackson, from Learn To Skate and Beginning Hockey through 6U and 8U. “We are fortunate to have Jeff leading our current 8U group as they transition to increased time commitment, full-ice play, and continued focus on skill development. It is such a critical age to reinforce the importance of long-term athlete development while ensuring they have fun,” said Kakabeeke. “Our goal with these first year travel families is to establish Club Culture expectations, reinforce that we are committed to player development, and provide an experience that has these kids and their families being positive ambassadors on KOHA’s behalf,” said Kakabeeke. “Having the right person leading that experience is key. We couldn’t be happier to have Jeff in this role.”
“KOHA is so different now than when I played. The youth hockey experience has evolved, and KOHA has embraced a development model that is far superior to the old school ways. I love the focus on individual skill development and setting these kids up to be the best players they can be when it matters most - at 15, 16, 17, 18 years old and beyond. Make no mistake that we will work to win games (because that’s FUN), but we will not sacrifice development for wins at 9 years old - ever. I am so excited for the opportunity to coach these kids at such an exciting time for youth hockey,” said Timpe.