The Detroit Hockey Association (DHA) is an amateur, non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt youth ice hockey organization based at Jack Adams Arena in Detroit, MI. The DHA has focused on building the character of metro Detroit youth for over 30 years. Its motto, “Where goals are achieved, not just scored” is the credo of the association.
Instrumental in the success of the program is William McCant who is the executive director and one of the founding members.
William McCant, who was born in Toronto, Ontario and migrated to Detroit at the age of 15 agreed to be interviewed by the National Youth Hockey Examiner and provided his noted passion about the ever present issues associated with youth hockey for kids in urban areas.
McCant has proven to be a tireless advocate and supporter of youth hockey and has fought against insurmountable odds to keep the program alive and breathing.
McCant has even fought the NHL to seek tangible improvements to yuth hockey in urban areas of the country.
He has even fought the NHL to seek tangible improvements to youth hockey in urban areas of the country.
We asked Mr. McCant a few questions about his successful program and his challenges:
Examiner: Tell us some of your major achievements since starting the program over 30 years ago?
McCant: The DHA has focused on building the character of metro Detroit youth for over 30 years. Its motto, “Where goals are achieved, not just scored” guides the association. When it comes to helping students achieve life goals, the program has been a great success. The numbers say it all. According to USA Today the 2006 the graduation rate in Detroit public schools was worst in the United States at only 21.7%. In stark contrast, all Detroit Hockey Association players graduate from high school and most go on to College!
The DHA is committed to grow by attracting more players and their families to the program. This website provides one method of informing metro Detroit the DHA offers the most affordable hockey in Southeastern Michigan. For example, an entire season in the i-Program (learn to play) only costs $150, including instruction, ice time, skates, sticks, and full equipment!
Examiner: Your organization has hosted “Hockey in the Hood” a successful annual tournament for 7 years now. Can you tell us about it?
Detroit Hockey Association (DHA) hosted the latest Hockey in the Hood VII (HITH 7) tournament from February 18-20 2011.
HITH is the largest tournament to celebrate diversity in the sport of hockey. This annual event brings over 300 youth to Detroit from various cities throughout MI and across the USA for a weekend of friendship, fun and hockey. “It is unbelievable that we are now in our seventh year “It is truly a great opportunity for all the kids.
Hockey in the Hood featured eight inner-city hockey teams from seven U.S. cities: Detroit, Flint, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York City (Harlem), and Washington, D.C. Although most of the teams were made up of African-American players, there were Hispanic, Latino, and white players who also participate in the invitational. Female teams also took part.
Games will also be played outdoors at Clark Park in southwest Detroit (1130 Clark Street, Detroit, MI).
Games will also be played on Saturday at Clark Park and Jack Adams Memorial Arena at the Adams/ Butzel Center.
Examiner: Is it true you have had dignitaries such as Willie O’Ree participating in your tournament?
In past years the guest of honor, Mr. Willie O’Ree has been on hand for several weekends. O’Ree is the NHL Director of Youth Development and Ambassador for NHL Diversity. He was the first black player in the NHL and broke the color barrier with the Boston Bruins in 1958.
Hockey In The Hood featured eight inner-city hockey teams from seven U.S. cities: Detroit, Flint, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York City (Harlem), and Washington, D.C. Although most of the teams were made up of African-American players, there were Hispanic, Latino, and white players who also participate in the invitational. Female teams also took part.
Examiner: Tell us a little about the teams who come to Detroit for the tournament?
McCant: The first Hockey in the Hood featured only two inner-city hockey clubs, the Detroit Dragons of the DHA and the Fort DuPont Hockey Club of Washington, D.C. This year’s Hockey in the Hood featured eight clubs and is expected to grow to 14 teams this year.
The teams included the Detroit Dragons of the DHA, the Clark Park Ambassadors of Southwest Detroit, the Fort DuPont Ice Hockey Club of Washington, D.C., The Harlem Rangers of New York City, the Hockey in the Hood Penguins of Pittsburgh, the Columbus (Ohio) Ice Hockey Club Eagles, the United Skaters of Flint, and Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois from Chicago. Many of the players were impressed and surprised by the turnout and the tournament.
Hockey in the Hood received sponsorship from the Detroit Red Wings, the NHL and other donors. Although there are plans to expand Hockey In the Hood to other ice rinks at the City Ice Arena and the State Fairgrounds, I want to keep it local and accessible to the general public.
We’re going out of our way to keep this going,” he said. “The most important thing is that these kids must realize that the world is bigger than their neighborhood.
Examiner: Tell us a little about your background?
McCant: I was born in Toronto, Ontario and got started playing at Mitchell Field. I was introduced to the game by Herb Carnegie’s son Dale. At the time Herb was active in schools with the Future Ace’s program. It was designed to expose Canadian children to hockey. I moved to Detroit at the age of 15 where I played junior A hockey for the Redford Royals.
Examiner: Do you remember any of the players on your junior A team?
McCant: Alfie Turcotte, Kevin and Kyle Miller, and Doug Houda were a few who immediately come to mind.
Examiner: Can you name some players who have graduated from your program?
McCant: Akim Adams who played in the OHA, John Carter, who was drafted in the NHL, Cameron Burt, who is a top player for Rochester Institute of Technology, Jalen Smereck, Jason McCrimmon, Lyrad Braceful, and Terasi Karega, who was voted Miss Michigan Hockey and plays in Amhearst , Maine.
Examiner: Who were your favorite players growing up?
McCant: Bobby Orr, and Guy Lafleur and later Wayne Gretzky.
Examiner: What would you consider to be your biggest issues continuing to grow hockey in Detroit and expose urban children to the game?
McCant: There are a lot of misunderstandings out there about urban kids. Some see them as entering the sport with problems. Financial issues associated with equipment and lack of availability of ice time have also hampered our program tremendously. Some people in our own community do not understand the game and therefore find difficulty in supporting our causes. It can be very frustrating and stressful sometimes.
Examiner: If you had a top 3 wish list for your program what would you want to help your kids?
McCant: We have received help from Mike Illitch , and previously have had support from the NHL, but budget shortfalls have tremendously effected donations to the organization and unlike other programs we do not have large sponsors like the Ed Snider program in Philadelphia that has unbelievable financial support.
So I would say corporate sponsorships, Helmets, hockey sticks, yes that’s three.