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KOHA understands that hockey can sometimes be more of a financial commitment than some families can afford. Each year, our Sportship Committee accepts applications from those families interested in seeking financial assistance with their child's (typically, although not necessarily limited to, House C) hockey season. Simply submitting a Sportship application does NOT guarantee it will be granted - only that the application may be considered.

Please note that applications will be denied that do not have the proper documentation submitted with application by the deadline.

Sawyer Baliff Memorial Scholarship

KOHA is preparing to remember and honor one of our own by accepting nominations for the Sawyer Baliff Memorial Scholarship.

Tragically, Sawyer (age 11) passed on June 9, 2017, from injuries suffered from an ATV accident.  Sawyer was an unbelievable young man and loved dearly by his family.  Sawyer was a KOHA hockey player and previously enjoyed three years of flag football.  He was an active and competitive boy and was passionate about most sports. Sawyer had a nurturing heart and loved spending time with little ones, whether they be family, friends, or at his mother's work. His friends were a very important part of his life, as was his family. Sawyer strived to be a good role-model and leader in all aspects of life.

The Baliff family has continued to be intimately involved with KOHA.  Mark has continued to coach in House C and is the House C Assistant Director. 

The annual golf outing is named in Sawyer's honor.  Candidly, the prep and planning for the golf with the Baliff and Barnes family is a true highlight of my job.  Not to mention the relationships built with both families.

If you need insight on Sawyer and his remarkable family, please take a moment to read this article penned by Mark in 2021.  I LOVE TO WATCH YOU PLAY

After reading Mark's emotional editorial, I am sure you have an understanding of what type of person Sawyer was, and what the Baliff family represents.

As a KOHA coach, manager or director you have the opportunity to nominate a special KOHA player - a player in the image of Sawyer - to be honored in his memory.  Please take the time to do so...



To be eligible for the Sawyer Baliff Memorial Scholarship, a child must be a KOHA member and needs to be nominated by the player’s current year KOHA coach (or an assistant coach), KOHA skills coach, KOHA Board member or KOHA staff member. 

The Sawyer Baliff Memorial Scholarship will provide merit based scholarship(s) that the honoree can apply to their KOHA fees the following season.  These funds are non-transferrable and have no cash value.

The recipient of Sawyer’s scholarship will be the type of child that represents the type of player, teammate and person Sawyer was and how he is remembered.  

Eligible recipients will have demonstrated a strong work ethic, a positive attitude and leadership on the ice and in the locker room. He or she will have exhibited sportsmanship throughout the season, strength for teammates when needed, good character, and a smile.

There are many different scholarships out there for children who are naturally gifted - whether it is in sports or academics. The intent of this scholarship is to recognize those kids who have shown that they have the HEART to work, and compassion for those around them, just like Sawyer!

In addition to having the above, the potential honoree must meet the following criteria:  

  • Be a current KOHA member

  • Love of the game

  • Exhibit leadership skills

  • Supportive as a teammate

  • Be a GOOD person who treats others with respect and empathy.

Nominations can be submitted for any player(s) on your team that you feel exemplify the character traits that meet or exceed the criteria above, and include any other information you feel would be pertinent in the scholarship committee’s determination process.

Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association


The mission of the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (K.O.H.A.) is to provide a safe and inclusive environment for youth of all skill levels to learn, develop, and excel in the sport of hockey. We strive to instill a lifelong love of the game and promote sportsmanship, teamwork, and leadership among our players. We pride ourselves on providing age appropriate player development and skill-appropriate coaching.

KOHA exists to offer a premium, affordable opportunity to learn the game of hockey for players in our organization. Through high-quality coaching, training, and competition, we aim to help our athletes reach their full potential on and off the ice. Our ultimate goal is to produce well-rounded, confident, and skilled hockey players who will be successful at all levels of the game

The KOHA Office is located at Wings West Ice Arena

5076 Sports Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009