The Inaugural Mentorship DraftNov 20, 2015
This season, the Utica Comets and Utica Jr. Comets Elite program have partnered up, with the AHL players serving as on-ice and off-ice mentors to the youth players. Each player on the 2004 and 2006 Elite teams is paired up with a member of the AHL Utica Comets team, who will facilitate on-ice and off-ice interactions. As Comets players were, at one point in their lives, youth hockey players, the mentorship program challenges and supports our youth elites not only this year, but for years to come.
The Mentorship program will operate on at least five different interactions throughout the course of the AHL and youth hockey season. Comets players will set up lunches, activities, and other fun interactions with their youth player that will create a mutually beneficial relationship for all involved. As professional hockey players, the Comets can help embody the core values of growth, leadership, and development for our youth players as they begin the process of achieving their goals and aspirations.
The Utica Comets and the Elite teams kicked off the mentorship program with a “draft” at the Utica Comets annual Season Ticket Holder party in early October. At this event, the Utica Comets players selected a player from either the 2004 or 2006 Elite team and presented them with their jersey for the upcoming season. Utica Comets broadcaster Brendan Burke emceed the event and announced selections where the youth players cordially met their mentor, took pictures, and exchanged contact information for the upcoming year.
The Utica Comets organization and President Rob Esche feel that this program will create everlasting relationships and memories for our youth players.
“Having such defined role models will help to not only build confidence within our youth players, but will also help our AHL players further develop at their level,” said Esche. “It’s a win-win for both levels of play, and I’m excited to see the relationships progress into the new year.”
The idea of the mentorship program came to fruition after Rob Esche met with members of the PHPA, Professional Hockey Players’ Association, and Alex Biega, Utica Comets Captain. This type of program is something the players are excited about and where they feel they can provide the biggest impact.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to give back to the kids aspiring to get to the next level in the Utica area. We all remember having a mentor or looking up to certain players when we were their ages and to be able to spend quality time with the individual player should serve as a valuable resource to players at the grass root level,” said Biega.
The Elite players will go through many of the same experiences current Comets players went through at the same age. The Comets can provide insight and advice to help each Elite player achieve their goals.
We are looking forward to continue documenting the experiences for both the AHL and youth players throughout the course of the season!