Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Allen Americans Intern Program - New Recruiting Tool and Way To Help Players After Playing Days End

Chad Costello, Kevin Young, Ian Schultz, & Jamie Schaafsma, are the first members of the Allen Americans Intern Program

One of the reasons Steve Martinson has won eight championships during his professional coaching career is his ability to recruit players. What is his secret to recruiting? Have as many tools in your recruiting tool kit as possible. With the salary cap, competing based on salary is not the key to success as a player can always find a team willing to pay $50 or $100 more per week. The key to getting the best players is having other reasons to have them want to play for your team. Here are some of the many tools Steve Martinson uses when making a pitch to players.

-  Allen has never missed the playoffs and has been to the finals three times in five years and won back to back championships. You can count on several additional weeks of pay as Allen makes a deep playoff run.

- You will play an upbeat, aggressive offensive system in Allen that is also dedicated to defensive hockey. Points won't keep you in the American Hockey League (AHL) but points will get you noticed. You have to be able to play without the puck and you have to understand the game and that is what we will help you with in Allen. With our system you will have plenty of opportunity to get points. We won't handcuff you in the third period with a lead. We will take less risk but we will keep our foot on the gas. If you want to play in a system where you can score a lot of points come to Allen.

- You will play for a great organization and you will play in a great facility in the five year old Allen Event Center which is surrounded by shopping and restaurants.  

- You will play for a team that has a history of moving players to the AHL. Our goal is to see you progress in your hockey career.

- Playing in the Dallas Metroplex you have access to whatever interests you may have including the Stars, Cowboys, Mavericks and Rangers. Playing where you have a major international airport makes it easier for you and your friends and family to travel in and out of DFW.

- You will live on a golf course and can play golf year around. Average high temperature during the hockey season is 79 in October, 66 in November, 57 in December, 55 in January, 61 in February, 69 in March, 77 in April and 84 in May. It is a great place to live whether your are single or have a family.

- There is a great fan base that supports the team and the players.

Always looking for additional tools for his tool kit, last spring Steve Martinson started looking at providing internships for players who had some idea of what they wanted to do when their playing careers were over. Because so many players have an interest in becoming a fireman the first step was to meet with the Allen Fire Chief to see if he would be willing to work with the Americans to set up a program. A program was put together and the internship program was born. A new recruiting tool that few if any other teams have in place, Steve Martinson can offer players help in getting prepared for whatever career they want to pursue after they quit playing. The first group to avail themselves of the intern program are Jamie Schaafsma, Kevin Young, Chad Costello and Ian Schultz who are spending time during the season with the Allen Fire Department. The intern program can be expanded to include almost any area of interest a player may have. Police, Mortgage Banking, Financial Advisor, Medical Sales are just a few of the possibilities for the future.

So how does the program work? I had the chance to talk to three of the guys (Schaafsma, Schultz & Young) to find out a little about how the program works and what they have been doing. It is a volunteer program, there is no compensation, and all of the hours are on the players own time.

- There are two parts of the program, the first being more structured when all four of the guys will spend a few hours learning about a specific area. They have had a session on what an EMT does where they learned how to start IV's, check blood pressure, clear airways, intubate, etc. It is all hands on training as the fire department has a "smart dummy" that can be programmed for all kinds of situations and simulates real life circumstances. So instead of just learning about IV's the guys had to put a needle in the vein of the"smart dummy." This week the guys learned how to use the "jaws of life" and other extraction tools and again it is was all hands on as they cut apart an old Buick. In total the guys will have six or seven of these training sessions which will cover the entire spectrum of firefighting.

- The second part of the intern program is spending time with firefighters and experiencing the actual job. There are five fire stations in Allen and the players schedule their own time for this activity. The players do this individually, not as a group and will spend 24-30 hours doing ride alongs. Experiencing the classroom and hands on training is one thing but being able to see the actual job being performed will give the guys a better idea if it is something they want to pursue.

- For Jamie Schaafsma the internship allows him to brush up on and expand skills he learned last year through a PHPA (Professional Hockey Players Association) program which offered a discounted price to players to get a firefighter certificate. Players from the AHL, ECHL and CHL all participated. During the season last year Jamie was required to complete a 32 chapter online course and at the end of June he went to Toronto for four weeks of full time firefighting training. The group learned all firefighter skills including ropes, ladders, hoses and live fires. At the end of the four weeks the Ontario Fire Marshall came in and Jamie had to pass six different training drills. There was also a written exam at the end of the course. Jamie now has the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) certificates 1 & 2 which qualifies him to apply for a firefighter job anywhere in North America. There is no doubt this is what Jamie wants to do when his playing days are over. One of the big benefits of the program here in Allen for Jamie is the ride along part as he has not experienced first hand going out on emergencies.

- All of the guys could not say enough about what a great experience the internship has been and the professionalism of the Allen Fire Department. Words like amazing and awesome kept coming up. It has been very hands on training with a lot of support by the firemen. There are a lot of similarities between hockey and being a fireman as they both spend a lot of time practicing their skills over and over and the camaraderie at the fire station is similar to the hockey locker room. With the physical demands and team work required to be a fireman it seems to be a natural fit for hockey players.

L to R -  Ian Schultz, KevinYoung, Chad Costello & Jamie Schaafsma

So Steve Martinson has one more successful tool in his recruiting tool kit. As Jamie Schaafsma said, "A program like this is definitely a good recruiting tool, especially for guys like me who started right in professional hockey and didn't get to go to college. Guys that went to college and got a degree have more options for careers. For guys that went the junior hockey route and then started playing pro you get to that point where you have to start thinking about life after hockey and this program is certainly beneficial.

When Steve Martinson is recruiting next summer you can be assured one of the questions he will ask is what do you want to do when your playing days are over and let me tell you how I can help you achieve that goal.

DID YOU KNOW: Always try to have some interesting fact or statistic here but came across this yesterday and had to laugh:

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