September 13, 2011
By Mike Scandura
Special to USAHockey.com
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize why George Haviland founded a girls’ hockey program for the New Jersey Titans earlier this year.
“I have four daughters, so that was part of it,” admitted Haviland.
That was just the beginning, though. According to Haviland, the nearest girls’ hockey program to the Titans’ home base in Howell, N.J. is 70 miles away. He looked at that as an opportunity to put the Titans in a position of leadership when it comes to the future of New Jersey girls’ hockey.
“We have an elite boys’ program, so I asked ‘Why not have an elite girls’ program?’” Haviland said. “Now, people who are driving farther away to play realize they could have stayed here to play.”
Another factor in Haviland’s decision to establish a girls’ program was the opening of Howell Ice World, which he is an owner, last Christmas Eve.
“With this facility, the girls have their own lounge and access card to enter the lounge and the rink,” Haviland said. “They can leave their equipment here. They’re using our off-ice equipment like our rapid-hands and rapid-shot machines.
“The girls have everything the boys have. Who’s giving girls their own locker room? Nobody is doing that.”
In order to get the program on the ice, the Titans held a one-day tryout last March and 90 girls showed up.
“Basically, they were all brand-new girls who were interested in playing hockey,” Haviland said. “Out of the 90 who showed up, we had 30 decide to play on the developmental team [which is split up into Under-10 and U-12 levels].”
Haviland also held an evaluation session for girls who were interested in playing on a U-16 team.
“We have some high-end girls on the team,” he said. “My daughter, Jessica, was picked for USA Hockey’s Select Player Development Camp. She spent 10 days in Rochester [N.Y.] last summer [participating with the U-14 group].
“We have a base of girls. The boys’ program is very strong. We have three guys who play in the NHL. When I built this program, I realized there isn’t anybody in New Jersey who plays girls’ hockey.
“The Titans name is known across the country,” added Haviland. “When we said we were going to add girls’ hockey, it raised a lot of eyebrows. But we have some good players. A good, successful year really will help us out going forward.”
The Titans also have two other things in their favor: the Uliasz sisters and USA Hockey’s American Development Model.
Nicole Uliasz, who’s currently the head girls’ coach at Lawrenceville (N.J.) Prep, played her college hockey at Wisconsin and also played on the 2002 U.S. U-22 National Team.
Brianna Uliasz played her college hockey at Connecticut and was a two-time participant in USA Hockey’s Women’s Development Camps.
“They’re our in-house pros, so to speak,” Haviland said. “We have two legitimate female pros that have helped us out.
“That’s part of our success. I owe a pat on the back to each of them.”
Given the facilities at Howell Ice World, adopting the ADM was a no-brainer.
“We have a full-sized rink in the building and half a rink,” Haviland said. “It’s perfect for the ADM. Girls practice twice [per week] for small-ice games and have one practice on the big rink. We’re following the 3-to-1 practice-to-game ratio. By playing on small ice, it helps the girls improve their skills.
“I see great improvements already for our players by following the ADM. One thing I feel is girls pay attention. They learn quicker because their attention to detail is greater than the boys’ focus is.”
Once the Titans establish a bigger foothold, Haviland has specific goals in mind for the program’s future alumni.
“At the end of the day, our organization prides itself on player placement,” he said. “It’s important for our girls to move on and become well-rounded adults. I think getting into the girls’ program will help them become very successful in terms of getting them into college and becoming college players plus good citizens.
“It’s a learning experience and we’re committed to it.”
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.