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KAHA ignites competitive spirit for FMS student
Farragut-based hockey league 260 strong


Jayce Dorman, a 13-year-old Farragut Middle School seventh-grader, is willing to absorb a high degree of punishment for his love of hockey.

Literally half the size of many other players he battled during a Wednesday, Jan. 6, “stick and puck” scrimmage in Farragut's Icearium, Jayce said passion outweighs risk.

“I think I'm good enough to play with those kids, it just challenges me more,” said Jayce, a center on Select Bantam Travel team (ages 13-14) who is one of roughly 260 Knoxville Amateur Hockey Association players ages 4 to 18 based at Cool Sports, Home of the Icearium.

“It can get rough, a lot of contact, but you can't be afraid of hitting,” Jayce added. “It's just a fast-moving sport, and I come here to have fun.

“You have a lot of friends out here.”


Laurie Dorman, Jayce's mother who has lived in Farragut 15 years after moving from Michigan, said Jayce started playing at age 4.

“When we came here it wasn't nearly as organized, but it's great now,” Laurie said of KAHA. “When we started they were just opening up [2002], now it's super.”

Why should parents allow a child to play in KAHA?

“They are really like a big, huge family here,” Laurie said. “Everybody's so close, and I have friends that will pick up Jayce and will get him where he needs to be.

“He's on a travel team, and you can send him with another family, and they'll take him,” she added. “Just a really close-knit group of people.”

Laurie said KAHA coaches “have a nice attitude where it's not all about win, win, win. They want the kids to love the sport.”

Laurie said outfitting Jayce “is affordable,” adding, “you can always find used equipment, because kids grow so quick.”

K. J. Voorhees, hockey director at Cool Sports who also runs KAHA, said you could suit up one young hockey player — stick, skates, helmet and uniform -— for as little as $150.

“I know that's less than what you spend on a bat and glove and baseball cleats,” he said.

As for KAHA, “What we have for our newest and youngest players [ages 4 to 10] is what we call our Cross Ice Program,” Voorhees said of the association's training program.

Cross Ice Program currently includes 55 Farragut-area children. Cross Ice runs from 9:10 to 10 a.m., Saturdays, and 5:40 to 6:30 p.m., Mondays.

“Once they graduate through each section, then they're placed on teams,” Voorhees added. “They have to be competent in skating skills, skating forward, skating backwards, crossover, turning, passing and shooting the puck. Every kid advances at a different level.”

Voorhees said, on average, it take roughly one year to advance out of Cross Ice onto a KAHA league team.

As for the level supervision and personal attention, Voorhees said, “We usually have between eight and 12 coaches on the ice.”

Among 36 KAHA coaches, Jeff Lindsay and Jamie Ronayne have minor league pro hockey experience. Voorhees also is an assistant coach for Knoxville Ice Bears.

Leagues, with between “two to four coaches” per team according to Voorhees, are Mites (ages 5-8, three teams, 33 players), Squirts (9-10, three teams, 42 players), Pee-Wee/Bantam (11-14, five teams, 67 players) and Knoxville High School League (four teams, 65 players, November-March).

With the exception of high school, KAHA is a year-round program [four league seasons per year] where team rosters completely change for each new season. High School also includes an in-house spring league.

“Some kids take the winter off, some kids take the summer off, some kids take the spring off,” Voorhees said. “Winter is definitely our biggest season.”

As for fees, “Our start-up price is $75 [Cross Ice], which is usually cheaper than football, soccer, basketball, baseball,” Voorhees said. “That's for eight weeks, they're on the ice twice a week, 16 times. They can come learn the game of hockey for $75.” A second eight-week Cross Ice session is $149.

Cost to play in a league during each eight-week season: Mites, $199; Squirt, $229; Pee-Wee/Bantam, $245 and High School, $500. “Once you move up to Mites, Squirt, Pee-Wee/Bantam, you get more ice time,” Voorhees said. “Two-and-a-half to three times a week you're on the ice.”

According to Voorhees, KAHA is the state's only youth hockey association east of Nashville.

“We've got kids from Johnson City, we've got two or three or four kids from Chattanooga, so we certainly have kids from a wide area.”

For more info on KAHA, contact Voorhees at 865-218-4500, extension 223, or visit kaha.org

 

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