As the coordinator for the Sharks High School Hockey League, Shane Galaviz “pretty much does everything,” in his own words.
And he’s not complaining.
He’s loving every minute running the league since he took over the position a little more than three months ago.
Last season, he assisted the former coordinator, Amanda Long, with odds and ends. When Long took an administrative role with the Minnesota State University NCAA Division I team over the summer, the position opened up and Galaviz jumped on it.
“I do everything from creating rosters, making sure they are all USA Hockey-compliant, scheduling, getting all the players registered and stat-taking, making sure all of that is current and up to date,” said Galaviz. “I worked 5-6 years in the Ducks league and then helped Amanda last year. Now we’re here.”
This season, in addition to his league duties, Galaviz also coaches Valley Christian High School and helps with a handful of regional teams in the league.
Overall, the league now boasts 36 teams for the 2019-20 season with more than 700 total players registered.
“The league has grown a lot,” Galaviz said. “The D-I division, especially, has grown. We had eight teams last year and we have 10 teams this year. We’re also looking at adding three more for this coming season, so our D-I division is growing rather quickly.”
Galaviz added that the increase in player numbers are not a big deal, but rather are “a huge deal.”
“High school hockey, from the looks of it, the landscape, hockey in California is growing,” said Galaviz. “It’s a testament to change, and a great change. High school hockey is fun. Who doesn’t want to play for their school and represent their school and get their friends out to these games? These kids enjoy being part of a team that represents something bigger than just any other club.
“The kids love it. They love representing their school and having their friends out to the games, not only supporting them, but supporting the team. They get to go to school and they get to be the big shot a little bit. You know, who doesn’t love that? That’s the reason they play.”
The league also has a development philosophy in place, and it’s one that Galaviz is excited to keep pushing moving forward.
“The development model for the league for the players is that we want them to develop overall skill, not necessarily to become the greatest individual player, but just to develop the main six hockey skills that USA Hockey preaches,” said Galaviz. “The other big thing we want the players to get out of this is that we want them to become good people. They represent their school, so we want them to be respectful and grow up, coming out of this league as respectful young men and women.
“That’s really what I love seeing out of these kids, that they grew as a person and not just as a hockey player.”
Galaviz mentioned that while the overall makeup of the league is co-ed in nature, there are a handful of girl-specific teams from girls-only schools.
Being all-inclusive is just one of the many aspects of the league that Galaviz said makes it stand out not only in California, but across the country.
“I think what is appealing to our families and our kids is that we encourage the kids to have fun, said Galaviz. “Yeah, we want to be competitive, but a lot of these kids have their competitive team and we want them to come in and enjoy their experience. We don’t want it to be a ‘dread practice’ experience. We don’t want them to come off a long weekend of busting their butts and think, ‘great, another game.’ We want them to have fun where they can still work hard and not have it be overly demanding. It should be another fun experience.”
In recent years, a large number of players from the league have advanced to play junior hockey and for ACHA schools. Galaviz said he expects more of that continuing after the 2019-20 season wraps up.
“Virtually every team has had a handful of players move on,” said Galaviz. “A couple names that stand out are Austin Billings and Cameron Andrade at LMU. We had Zac Podlesh go to Colorado State and a few others go play juniors in Texas. We’ve had a lot of advancement out of the league, and that’s good to see.”
Having seen where the league was and where it is now, Galaviz wants to see the league sustain itself well into the future.
“From where it’s been to where we are now, it’s changed drastically,” he said. “From when I first got here, the league was more of an in-house league. The kids were mostly in-house players and these high school programs were barely getting going. Now, we’ve got staples in the program and I think the direction we want to go is that we want the teams we have currently to stick around, we want to add teams to every division and ideally, we want to just keep growing at this rate.
“If we keep growing at this rate, we’re going to have more teams very quickly, and that’s great. That means more of these kids get to represent their schools and they get to play a little more hockey. We want to be competitive with any other high school program in the country, not just here in California.”
— Matt Mackinder