The 8U program is an introductory league for novices ages 5-8. Fundamental skills and game awareness are emphasized, with half-ice games played on an Olympic-sized surface with dividers. Teams use a 4-on-4 format with goalies for nonstop action and plenty of puck touches.
The final phase of development is the Express full season team, with games against other clubs in the Premier Hockey League and Elite 9/Boston Hockey League. Tryouts are held in March each year.
The club has also seen solid growth within its girls program. On the junior side, Barletta estimates five girls have played prep school hockey, with another five going on to play in college. Barletta is especially proud of the Leprechauns Girls Hockey program, which provides players an opportunity to compete without the traditional commitment required for seasonal hockey.
“It’s unbelievable,” Barletta said of the program. “We’ve won many championships. We probably have 40 to 50 girls already committed to Division I that play for us in the summer.”
Above all, Barletta and his staff are committed to making the game enjoyable for kids at all levels. With few exceptions, most parents have bought in to the ADM concept. Teams practice and play at Rodman Arena, along with a two-sheet facility. Barletta also started the RB Hockey School, an intense but positive learning environment with educational skills camps focusing on the individual player rather than the group as a whole.
“My goal is to fill up this academy, because the development model with it is unbelievable,” he explained.
Successful implementation of the ADM requires an all-out commitment at all levels, which is a major reason Walpole Express Hockey is poised to see even bigger growth in the future.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.