From the ground up
Before the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association granted the applications for the move to Division 1, the organization required a four-year commitment from the local teams.
The philosophy behind the required commitment is that teams should not apply for Division 1 status if a particularly strong senior class is coming through the pipeline. It is intended to be a permanent move for an entire hockey community.
“The train is rolling,” Yameen said. “This is a four-year commitment, but I have no plans to go back. I want more Division 1 games, not less.”
When Yameen and Wile speak about the Newburyport and Triton communities, they can do so with the knowledge of being involved at every level. Yameen and his staff work closely with Newburyport Youth Hockey, sharing coaching strategies and implementing a weight-lifting programs for eighth-graders. Wile helps coach his son’s youth team in Triton Youth Hockey, and challenges coaches and league directors to put together difficult schedules for the youth players.
Newburyport Youth Hockey has 135 players spread across five levels, and the talent is particularly strong in grades 6 through 8. Triton Youth Hockey has close to 200 players, although the high school team’s numbers are well short of the 60 Newburyport boasts. The reason for the discrepancy in high school participation is two-fold: Wile has only three uninterrupted years on the job at Triton to Yameen’s 10 at Newburyport. Also, Wile just lost a handful of players when he announced the move to Division 1.
“By making the jump, we find out who wants to be a hockey player, and who just wants to play hockey,” Wile said. “I know I want hockey players. The schedule is not going to get any easier because I’m not going to make it any easier. Going Division 1 will open more doors than you can imagine. I expect a dip in numbers at first, but the plan doesn’t change.”