Florida Eels Program Overview
Florida Eels Program Overview
The Southwest Florida Youth Travel Hockey Association (SWFYTHA) operates and manages youth ice hockey programs. It is registered and licensed in the state of Florida as a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit corporation. The association organizes and maintains multiple hockey teams in various age divisions and at various levels.
The Florida Eels is a youth hockey program that is owned and operated by the Southwest Florida Youth Travel Hockey Association.
Over the last ten-and-a-half years the Eels program has successfully developed
Mites A & AA, Squirts A & AA, Peewee A, AA & AAA, Bantam A, AA & AAA, Midget U-16 A, AA & AAA, Junior B and Junior C teams and Midget U-18, A, AA & AAA.
Let me tell you a little about the Florida Eels program
The Florida Eels organization was formed to meet the needs of hockey players who wanted to further their skills in preparation for college or professional hockey. The Eels have since established itself as a quality junior hockey program, with many of its players realizing success at advanced levels of play.
The Eels have two Junior Teams. USA Hockey no longer attaches Jr. A or B labels. Our senior team plays in the EJHL South and our second squad plays in the Empire Junior Hockey League. There is frequent movement between the teams dependent on the players’ performance. With our new affiliation with the EJHL South and the Empire Junior Hockey League, we are piloting our program to the next level in Tier III junior status.
The Eels are extremely proud of our heritage. Indeed, we have over 70 alumni playing in all levels of college hockey as well as several players that recently have been drafted into the NHL (Teddy Ruth, (Washington Capitals now with the Columbus Blue Jackets) RJ Boyd (Florida Panthers) & Brad Peltz (Ottawa Senators) an another two who were in attendance at NHL Prospects camps last summer: Malcolm Lyles (Florida Panthers), and Bennet Sneider (NY Islanders). The Eels also have had numerous alumni move on to the USHL, NAHL, BCHL, OPJHL, EJHL and AJHL. Additionally the Eels have placed over 40 in prestigious New England Prep schools.
The EJHL South
The opportunity and visibility that is associated with the EMJHL and EJHL is unmatched. The EJHL has directly placed more than a thousand players in the NCAA and exceeds all other Tier III Junior Leagues. Considered the top academic advancement league in junior hockey, the EJHL's focus on college advancement and academic achievement is unmatched at the junior level, and is the perfect fit and partner for the Florida Eels organization as we have almost an identical focus. (Eels have over 72 alumni playing college hockey) Since its inception in 1993, the EJHL has placed over 1,500 players in NCAA hockey, including fifteen Division I All-Americans, six Hobey Baker Award finalists, with Matt Gilroy winning the award in 2009. 25 EJHL alumni have played in the NHL.
The Empire Junior Hockey League
Accordingly, our second team is playing in the Empire Junior Hockey League and has a similar scheduling matrix and allocation of games. The two teams will more often than not, travel together on most weekends. The Empire is the top development junior league in the USA, with dozens of NCAA Division I commitments from players during the current season. This places the Empire in fourth in NCAA placements in junior hockey, behind only the USHL, EJHL, and the NAHL. Other than these three organizations, no other junior league in the USA had more NCAA placements than the Empire.
Under the agreement, the EJHL South will participate in EJHL showcases and play selected exhibition games against EJHL clubs and take advantage of the exposure to NCAA and NHL scouts currently enjoyed by the EJHL. The EJHL South will also stage its All-Star game in conjunction with the annual EJHL All-Star Classic.
In the off-season the players participate in the New England Pro-Am International Pre-Draft Showcase and the Prestigious Chowder Cup. The Eels also attend the spring and summer EJHL showcases. These are some of the most heralded and prestigious tournaments in North America. Scouts from the NHL, NCAA D1, NCAA D3, USHL, NAHL, EJHL, and AJHL attend. Many of the Eels Alumni have been scouted there which resulted in them securing spots on College Teams.
Games and Tournaments
Both the Eels EJHL South and Empire Junior Hockey League teams play a 40 game league schedule. These games are a mixture between teams in their own southern conference as well games played against teams in the northern divisions. Each team participates in several EMJHL and EJHL showcases a year, such as the New Jersey Hitmen showcase, the New England Huskies Showcase, and the EJHL winter, spring, and summer Showcase. In addition to these showcases, the two teams also participate in showcases encompassing teams only in the EMJHL South and the EJHL South. The teams also scrimmage against top exhibition circuit teams that may travel to Florida on tour. By similar notion the Eels also schedule a number of extra games when we travel to the north for showcases.
The College Tour
The hallmark of the Eels Junior Program is our College Tour. The junior players attend a college tour where we visit 15 colleges and universities in the Northeast.
These include: University of Maine, Norwich, Northeaster University, New England College, Johnson and Wales, Babson College, Boston College, Yale, Sacred Heart University, Bridgewater State University, U Mass Lowell, U Mass Boston, U Mass Amherst, Providence College, Framingham State College, Stonehill College, and dozens more. Additionally we have toured colleges in the Southeast and the greater Wisconsin and Chicago area as well. During these tours the players visit with admissions counselors, tour the facilities and dorms, meet with coaches, attend and occasionally participate in college practices, and as well as watch a few college games. These players get a real feeling for the colleges that they are applying to and wish to attend. These first-hand visitations are extremely beneficial for the players and families in assisting them to make an intelligent and informed decision about their future education. One of the most unique things about our tour is we are able to play against some of the colleges’ JV and ACHA teams. These games give our players a benchmark of where they fit skill-wise against the younger college players.
The annual fee for playing on the Florida Eels juniors for regular season play is $9,000.00 this fee is below the average fee of the other teams in the EJHL South and Empire Junior Hockey league Southern Division.
This fee includes the following items:
1. All practices
2. All League Games
3. All League Showcases
4. All League Showcases
5. All travel including busses and air to and from away games, tournaments and showcases.
6. All meals for away league games league tournaments and league showcases
7. All lodging for away games, league tournaments and league showcases
8. Coaches salary as set by the organization
The players will be assessed a separate fee set by the league or team for post season play, all star selection and Nationals.
The players are required consistent with other teams and organizations to participate in fundraising, which includes season ticket sales, program book and raffles.
The players are responsible for payment of a billet fee to host families. That amount will run anywhere from $350.00 to $400.00
The players will be responsible to pay a uniform fee, which will include a warm up package approximate cost $300.00
Many players are already graduated from high school. Those players are strongly encouraged to continue their education at the community college level. It is recommended that they take 2 courses. For Florida residents Edison State College is just minutes away. Many of our players take advantage of classes there.
For out of state high school graduates, we recommend that they take on line courses from institutions form their respective home states of residence as the tuition charged is generally much less.
For students who are still in high school, there are a number of phenomenal options. Locally there is a State Charter High School: Pivot School located in Fort Myers Fl. It is a state charter school so there is no tuition assessed the player or parent.
For those parents looking for a private education, there is a fine private school called Hibernian Private School. It offers a traditional academic education with very small classroom sizes. Hibernian Private School does charge tuition since it is a non-public completely private academic institution.
Both schools are very accommodating in working with the Eels and its students.
The Teams practice on average one hour and fifteen minutes to 1-½ hours on ice a day depending on the schedule.
Off Ice Training and Fitness
The players train off -ice or in our fitness center 1-hour daily. Cost for fitness membership is $20.00 per month.
The Teams do video analysis and or chalk talk 3 – 4 times per week with the coaching staff. The team reviews previous game video, teams we are playing and individual performances of players in games and practices.
All players are expected to participate in volunteer community service at either local schools, soup kitchen, disaster relief or similar causes.
The program offers SAT prep by educators to assist players in SAT Prep
College Advising and Counseling
The coaching staff works closely with each player in assisting him with college selection, college applications, scholarship opportunities and question and search for financial aid.
Jr Coaching Staff
Frank Scarpaci Level Five USA Hockey Masters Coach; Coaching juniors for a decade; Two National appearances at the Midget Level; Won USA Hockey Midget Silver Medal for Midgets; Five State Championships; Five USA Hockey District Appearances; USA Hockey South District Festival Coach; Hockey Junior All Star Coach several occasions; HNIB Coach; Pro Am Sr Chowder Cup Coach, NHL Pre Draft Coach.
John Paris: USA Hockey Masters Level 5 Coaches. Coached Professional hockey; including experience with NHL, Head Coach of IHL Atlanta ECHL and other leagues. Also coached QMJHL; Tier I and Tier II Midget Hockey. High School Hockey. One of the most respected coaching in the USA and Canada
Frank Scarpaci III Level 4 USA Hockey Advanced Coach. Special Assistant Coach Florida Eels Jr Teams. Coached EJHL Spring and Summer College Showcase Tournament Teams. Coached the Pro Am International NHL Pre Draft, Sr Chowder Cup teams and Jr Chowder Cup teams. Head Coach and Lead Instructor for Florida Elite Hockey Summer Camps. Head Coach of Florida Eels Summer Hockey Schools. Northern USA Scout for the Florida Eels EJHL South and Florida Eels Empire Jr. Hockey League Team.
Henry Martinez Level 4 USA Hockey Advanced Coach. Coached Juniors 4 years. Coached Midget Hockey. SEJHL All Star coach
Jari Sanders. USA Hockey Level 4 Advanced Level coach. Assistant Coach Concordia University Wisconsin NCAA Div 3. Special Assistant Coach Florida Eels Jrs. Head Coach Florida Eels Midget U16 Summer Team
Officers of the Southwest Florida Youth Hockey Association
Antoinette Gayer………President and Treasurer
Frank Scarpaci………. Vice President
Board of Directors: Antoinette Gayer, Frank Scarpaci Hockey Director: Frank Scarpaci Ace Coordinator: Frank Scarpaci Florida Eels Registrar: Henry Marinez The Eels home rink is the Fort Myers Skatium.
The Fort Myers Skatium is a city-owned ice skating facility and recreation center located in downtown Fort Myers, Florida. It is located across the street from the Boston Red Sox spring training field. The rink was built in 1999 and has one 85 x 200 ice surface as well as a second 85 x 200 in-line rink. The rink has undergone a million dollar renovation this past year and is considered a first-class facility. It has grandstand seating for over 400 spectators and eight locker rooms with showers. Other amenities include a first class state-of-the-art fitness center, snack bar and full-service pro-shop.
The Florida Eels conduct their practices at the Ft. Myers Skatium in downtown Fort Myers. The Eels junior & AAA program have players from all of North America, Europe and across the state of Florida.
The Eels have also received corporate sponsoring to defray costs of the program. Our statewide showcasing enables our corporate sponsors and partners the opportunity to get to see the Eels practice and play statewide.
Eels Program Points of Emphasis
Encourage and assist our players to continue their education, during and after their careers with the Eels.
Provide quality coaching and instruction in hockey, nutrition, fitness, strength and mental conditioning.
Advise and assist in the college admissions process.
Increase our players’ visibility by showcasing their hockey talents for college coaches and pro scouts.
Develop the players’ work ethic via comprehensive training and practice regimens.
Hone our players’ skills by providing the opportunity to play in a highly competitive environment.
Maintain our players’ amateur status as defined by the NCAA standards.
Provide the guidance necessary for our players to mature socially and emotionally.
Exposure, Placement & Alumni
The Eels junior & AAA program are the most unique AAA program in the state of Florida, if not the USA. Its focus and mission is on education, player development, exposure, visibility, academic counseling, junior and college advisement and placement. The Eels have alumni playing Division I college hockey, division III college hockey, ACHA College Hockey as well as players in the USHL, NAHL, and other teams in the EJHL
The backbone of the Eels junior program training and practice. The players practice every day to receive maximum practice opportunity
The Eels videotape many of their practices and games. The videos offer enormous assistance as instructional tools in improving player skills. Through video, the coaches illustrate the player mistakes and accomplishments. There is no escaping the video. It will show the strengths and weakness of each player and what could be done to improve the individual’s skills and performance. These coaching mechanisms have had enormous impact on the development and improvement of our players. The old adage holds true that a picture says a thousand words and a photo does not lie. The players have been extremely receptive to these instructional critiques.
The Eels also participate in the most integrated and intense off-ice conditioning program in Florida with most junior players being active members of the Ft. Myers Fitness Center. The new fitness center is a state-of-the-art facility with some of the finest fitness equipment available. Additionally, the players are provided with NTDP and college training manuals to assist with their fitness training.
In addition to the fitness center training, each player participates in off-ice soccer training every Tuesday from 5:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. This cross training enhances multiple skills to better prepare the students for college. Prior to each practice players do short and long sprints and aerobics to warm up as part of their Junior Eels integrated on and off-ice training system.
Additionally, during the season, each player participates in off-ice soccer, football and basketball training every Tuesday from 5:00 p.m. to 6:45p.m. This cross training enhances multiple skills and develops eye/hand and balance coordination. Prior to each practice and game, our players do short and long sprints, cal esthetics and aerobics to warm up. These are all part of the integrated on and off-ice training component of the Eels Tier I System.
Chalk Talks & Commercial Video Classrooms
Players attend chalk talk sessions each times a week. The coaches go over the practice plans and review past and upcoming games. Coaches go over professional video clips such as Kevin Constantine’s “Total Hockey Instructional Services,” the “USA Hockey Drills” series, the Kenny Fields’ “Skating Dynamics DVD.” Series, and many others.
Eels SAT & ACT Classroom Prep and College Counseling
The players also participate in SAT training seminars offered by the Eels. The seminars are offered by professional educators reviewing test training techniques, strategies and methods. The educators review the SAT test to help prepare players for acceptance into college. Similar sessions are provided to players about college and junior placement. Extensive classroom and individual counseling sessions are provided to players and families regarding opportunities for the players. Discussion and explanation is provided about preparatory schools, division I, division III and ACHA teams. The coaches also share data available on junior programs and opportunities in the USHL, NAHL, EJHL, AJHL, EMJHL, Metro JHL, WJHL, OHL and the QMJHL. The Eels offer a complete integrated and multifaceted program. It is designed to prepare players both athletically and academically for college.
Our Tier II AA teams play in the SAHOF statewide league and compete in a variety of AAA/AA tournaments across North America. Our tier II A teams play in the FAHL and also compete in several invitational tournaments, both in Florida and occasionally outside the state.