EXETER, NH -- The landscape of youth and junior hockey is ever evolving. Programs must routinely find ways to add to their offerings to remain competitive nationally. Each season presents a new opportunity to bring on talented hockey players who are looking to grow and mature in the sport they love.
With a new season upon us, the Seacoast Spartans have rolled out changes to their girl’s hockey program, working off of suggestions from former parents of players within their program. The intent of these improvements is to make the Seacoast Spartans the first choice amongst families for their young, female hockey player.
The first thing the Spartans did was hire Kelly Souza as the Director of Player Development.
Souza has a long, unrivaled resume.
She played four years of NCAA Division I hockey, spending two years at University of New Hampshire, the defending national champions when she arrived, and two years at Boston College. She totaled 120 points in her four years of college hockey, 54 with the Wildcats and 66 with the Eagles, and was a captain for BC. More importantly, at least to those around the Boston College women’s ice hockey program, she was one of the catalysts that sparked the Eagles’ rise to national prominence.
Souza comes to the Spartans with a bevy of experience in coaching. She is currently the varsity girl’s hockey coach at Berwick Academy and also has been working with and advising other hockey programs since 2010 when she and her family returned to the United States from Italy.
With the addition of Souza, the Spartans are looking to add to their player development and advising, hoping to help younger players learn the value of teamwork, sportsmanship, commitment, discipline, and responsibility as they strive towards playing college hockey.
Aside from the addition of Souza, the Spartans are offering a number of new items to players within their system, including a skills curriculum developed by Souza and implemented by the coaching staff with the players. The team is also adding two tournaments to the schedule and an extra team practice during the week. Lastly, the Spartans are adding in leadership and college/prep school seminars to help educate the players throughout the season.
Being an independent team allows the Spartans to have flexibility when it comes to scheduling. The players within the system will be fortunate enough to travel overseas multiple times this season while playing hockey teams from around the world.
This was done to help broaden the horizons of the Spartans’ players and open their eyes to the different cultures that cover the Earth. There is also a hockey component to the trips as it allows the players to see how different countries implement different systems, with each playing the game differently than what the Spartans are used to seeing.
Between the schedule, the hiring of Kelly Souza, and the additions to the team offerings, the Spartans are hoping to become a prime selection for youth hockey.
Last year, Seacoast College Prep became Seacoast Spartans Prep, offering boys the opportunity to play within one organization from youth hockey through their 18- or 19-year old seasons. With a few seasons of sending players to college straight from the prep program, it has become clear that the Spartans are becoming a college feeder program.
The Seacoast Prep team will again play a challenging schedule, beginning the second weekend of September and running through February 2019. Included on the list of dates are three games at the Northern Cyclones Showcase in Hudson, NH, a weekend at the EHL Showcase in Haverill, MA, three days at the North American Challenge Cup in January, and a trip to Lake Placid, NY to play in the Northwood School Tournament.
Aside from those tournament settings, the Spartans have the EHL’s New England Wolves on the schedule to open the season and two road games against the USPHL Premier team, Connecticut Nighthawks, at the end of January.
The schedule was designed to test the players early and often while giving them the opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of as many coaches as possible, creating what will hopefully be offers from junior programs or colleges.
Last year’s Seacoast Spartans Prep team finished the season 43-9-1, closing the year with wins in 12 of their last 14 games.