New hockey director welcomed

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— There might have been a change in the new director of coaching for Steamboat's youth hockey program, but don't expect too many other changes.

Dave Strang, who replaced John Seymour as the director of coaching, said he plans on keeping the youth program running the same way Seymour did for the past year and a half.

Strang took the position on Nov. 15 after Seymour left to spend more time with his family, the program's vice president Bill Krueger said.

Strang, who moved to Steamboat in May after spending two years in Vail as the coaching director for their youth program, said he was planning only minor adjustments to the program.

"I'm picking up where Seymour left off," Strang said. "There are not a whole lot of changes, really."

Not a newcomer to Steamboat, Strang has worked in the youth hockey program as a coach for the squirt and bantam teams.

Strang even coached under Seymour on the midget team and worked together in hockey camps before leaving Steamboat a few years earlier, Krueger said.

That linkage made Strang a natural candidate for the position.

"I don't see anything changing. (Strang) and John have the same mind hockey-wise on how things should be under progression," Krueger said. "There are not any big changes. We don't need any big changes; there's nothing wrong with our program."

As the director of coaching, Krueger said what Strang will be doing is finding coaches to teach hockey progressively through the years. The goal is for high school- age players to have the basic skills mastered so they can concentrate on more sophisticated aspects of the game.

Seymour decided to stay on until early November to take the program through the beginning of the season, which involves securing coaches for the program's 13 teams, Krueger said.

One adjustment Strang does hope to bring with him is to expand the girls hockey program. Strange said female hockey players have a lot of opportunities in college and women's leagues after school.

"Girls hockey is one of the fastest-growing sports in America," Strang said. "There are such opportunities to do things with hockey after they leave our area."

This year, the youth program has 20 female hockey players.

Four of the players are also members of a girls' Under-19 team in Vail. The rest of the program's females play on a U-15 team in Steamboat.

Both Krueger and Strang also hope to see the midget hockey program become a high school -sanctioned sport by April.

Last year, the Steamboat Springs School Board denied the request for a boys hockey program.

With the completion of bleachers in the remodeled ice rink and a revision to the midget's grade policy, Krueger said the program should be able to be a sanctioned sport this year.

If the midget program would become a high school sport, it would follow the lead of Vail, Summit and Aspen high schools, which have created high school teams in the past few years.

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