The Twin Valley Area Hockey Club will be celebrating its tenth year in existence this coming season. As a non-profit and self-funded club, the organization is dedicated to the development of scholastic players of all skill levels in a safe and responsible environment while fostering parent involvement, teamwork, and respect for all those involved in the game.
The club’s history began in 2003, when Twin Valley Ice Hockey put its first squads, a middle school team and a high school team, on the Berks Scholastic Ice Hockey League ice. Remarkably, both of those teams went on to their respective championships in their inaugural campaign, and thus set the high standard which remains in place for the club to this day.
There are approximately 50 kids per year who play hockey for the club, which is overseen by coaches and a governing board which are all volunteers (several of which are both coaches and board members). Currently the club fields teams at four levels: elementary school, middle school, and junior varsity and varsity high school.
According to Tim Meers, coach of the high school varsity team and club board Registrar, Twin Valley Ice Hockey was successful from the get-go because there had been a strong foundation in place in the form of kids who had been playing travel hockey. To date, the high school level players have won four championships and the middle school has won one title, and each also have numerous second place finishes to the their credit.
Meers has been involved in the club throughout the entirety of its decade-long existence, initially as a middle school head coach and club Vice President.
“It’s been great and I really enjoy working with the kids,” he said. “A lot of our kids have special bonds that are formed (through the club), and to look back and see all of our accomplishments makes a lot of people very proud. It is amazing how far we have come in ten years.”
The program graduates about five players per year from its ranks, and Meers said that about 20 former Raider hockey players have gone on to become successful college players. Currently playing at the college level are his own sons Kevin and Ian, who play for Alvernia University, and Kyle Frey, who plays for Liberty University. Another of the club’s former players, Tim Coffman, currently plays hockey as a professional in the Netherlands.
Brad Stein has served as President of Twin Valley Ice Hockey for the past five years and is also a coach for the middle school team. He currently has two children of his own playing in the club, and he said that belonging to Twin Valley Ice Hockey instills all members with pride both in the club and the community.
“(My children) have definitely formed some goods friendships through playing with kids they know from school. It makes for a great team bond and builds respect for the team. Playing hockey helps teach them life lessons, like how to deal with adversity, and they learn the importance of sportsmanship and how to win and lose in style.”
One of the keys to the longevity of the hockey club has been its ability to make the game accessible to everyone.
“It is expensive to play hockey so (the cost) is a challenge,” Stein said. “We do all that we can to keep the club growing by keeping the cost per player as low as possible. If you look around we are one of the lowest priced clubs to play for, and that is because of our creativity when it comes to defraying costs.”
The fundraising is handled by the club’s board, made up of members Lori Jones, Rich Landean, Jim Minning, and Stein and Meers. Together they fundraise in the most creative ways possible and also seek sponsorship and support from local businesses.
One of those businesses, Morgantown NAPA, is donating brand new jerseys for this year’s high schools teams. Among the many local businesses that have supported the club through the year include The Mill Store, Masthoff Press, Sonic, and the Morgantown Reuzit Shoppe.
In the near future, the club will continue to look for opportunities to showcase its talented players beyond the league play of the East Penn Scholastic Hockey League.
“We are definitely moving forward and will be looking for more opportunities to compete in tournaments like the Flyers Cup,” said Stein.
The Flyers Cup is a major varsity tournament in the region. The winners of that tournament go on to face off against the winner of the Penguins Cup for a battle of ‘East vs. West’ Pennsylvania hockey. As Stein sees it, the club is just one year out from being invited.
For the upcoming season, the Raiders will be led by coaches Rich DeRemigio, Rich Landean, Jim Minnig, Shawn Buckley, Joe Rhoads, Meers, and Stein. It is sure to be a tenacious affair, as both the varsity and junior varsity high school teams are looking to return to the playoffs, as each team lost in hard-fought championship finals last season.
“We definitely think that we will be back there this year,” Meers said.
The public is always encouraged to come out to support the hockey team. Tickets to the varsity games are less than $5, with student tickets being additionally discounted and young children offered free admission. Most of the games are played at Body Zone in Wyomissing.
Twin Valley Area Ice Hockey is currently signing up K-12 boys and girls (the club has had six female players in the program over the years) for next season. The league games are played once game a week, typically on the weekend, and one practice is held per week on Friday evening. The upcoming schedule will be released in August, with the season starting in September.
Anyone interested in finding out more about signing up to play hockey, supporting/sponsoring the club, or purchasing club merchandise, or general team information, should visit http://tvicehockey.icenite.com
Twin Valley Ice Hockey will be having its first car wash of the season on June 1st from 10-3 at the Sonic restaurant at Morgantown Cerossing in Elverson.
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