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Aspen Leafs Programming


"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." -john wooden

Founded by John McBride in 1972, Aspen Junior Hockey (AJH) is an affiliate member of the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) and USA Hockey.  Known as the Aspen Leafs, AJH is a highly structured 501 (c) non-profit organization that serves close to 300 youth hockey players in the Roaring Fork Valley. AJH provides developmental competitive and recreational opportunities for girls and boys starting at age 4 and continuing through the ages of 19 (girls) and 18 (boys). The Aspen Leafs currently compete in the Western Colorado Hockey League (WCHL), Colorado Girls Hockey League (CGHL) and the Colorado Girls Tier-2 Hockey League.

The Aspen Development Model

Using the American Development Model (ADM), Aspen Junior Hockey believes in a designed system of coaching that focuses on age appropriate long term athletic development.

Below are the principles of the model, which are used to promote age-appropriate athlete development, health and safety, and sustained physical activity throughout life.

  1. Excellence takes time – develop age-appropriate facets of hockey performance — technical, tactical, physical and mental — while understanding these factors are deeply interdependent.
  2. Physical literacy and fundamentals – develop confidence and skills in a fun, engaging and progressively challenging atmosphere.
  3. Build athleticism – provide all youth with a range of training modes to enhance both health and related components of fitness to reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Specialization and early sampling – encourage an early sampling approach for youth that promotes and enhances a broad range of experiences in sports and physical activity.
  5. Growth and individualization – normal growth, maturation and development is critical to delivering a quality sport program.
  6. Periodization – allow for effective and efficient plans for a single practice or training session, as well as weekly, seasonal and yearly plans.
  7. Mental, cognitive and emotional development – engage in programs that promote both physical fitness and psychosocial well being.
  8. Quality coaching – the consistent application of integrated, inter- personal and intrapersonal knowledge to improve athletes’ competence, confidence, connection and character in specific coaching contexts.
  9. System alignment and integration – collaborate, align, and integrate in delivering the very best athlete development programs possible.
  10. Continuous improvement – seek continuous improvement by implementing new findings, innovations, and best practices from sports science, education and coaching.




AJH offers a comprehensive 6U Mites program running from November 2 through March 2.  Practices are twice per week, led by AJH Executive Director Shaun Hathaway (and other qualified coaches).  The 6U Mite program provides boys and girls age appropriate training, with an emphasis on physical literacy.  The goal of the program is to successfully teach on-ice balance, coordination and agility, while developing a passion for hockey in all children.  6U Mites practice twice per week with no formal competition.  Activity games and small area games are incorporated into every session.  


For seven and eight year old players (2009-2010), AJH offers a comprehensive 8U Mites program running from November 2 through March 2.  Practices are twice per week, led by AJH Executive Director Shaun Hathaway (and other qualified coaches).  The objective of the 8U Mite program is to develop on-ice balance, coordination, agility, and speed. Lessons are varied and interesting; the overriding goal is that all participants leave the ice with a smile. Emphasis is placed on developing speed, power and endurance using activity-based, small area and cross ice games. Controlled competition is introduced during several Jamborees run throughout season (minimal travel is required for these events).  During Jamborees, teams of Aspen 8U players (both 8U Mites and 8U Girls)  compete against other mountain programs in cross-ice games.  


Available for boys and girls ages 9 - 19, Aspen Leafs competitive teams play games in the Western Colorado Hockey League (WCHL) and Colorado Girls Hockey League (CGHL).  Both leagues are structured and organized in a responsible geographic footprint west of the Continental Divide.  Teams typically compete against other CAHA  programs east of the Continental Divide (and out of state teams) during in-state tournaments and the CAHA state playoffs. 

AJH is committed to maintaining and promoting a structured long-term athletic development model.  Age appropriate training and competition is the foundation of AJH programming, and all teams are organized based on the age divisions established by USA Hockey.  When there are multiple teams in different age divisions, players will be placed at the most appropriate competitive level to maximize their development (both physical and emotional).  The Executive Director is responsible for all final team placements.  

In order to ensure players can maximize the benefits of playing such a unique team sport, those choosing competitive hockey are expected to commit to all team functions, including practices, league games and playoffs.  Making this commitment allows the magic of developing team camaraderie, trust,  and accountability, which creates a culture that maximizes skill improvement AND  character development (the mission of AJH).  


AJH provides athletes interested in participating in multiple winter sports an opportunity to continue develop hockey skills without the “team” commitment .  For players ages 9-14, participants are differentiated into two groups (based on ability) for two on-ice practices per week.  Game opportunities are limited to several Friday evenings during the season, and 3-4 House Hockey Partnership (HHP) jamborees.  In the past two years AJH has led in the creation and operation of the HHP, which brings together different House programs throughout mountain communities for a half-day of friendly competition.  Throughout the 16/17 season, Aspen, Glenwood, Vail, and Summit are each expected to host a HHP jamboree (times TBA).  There is no commitment to attend  HHP jamborees, as all participants are mixed together and divided equally based on age and ability.  The objectives of HHP events are celebrating hockey, making new friends, and having fun.

TO REGISTER: All participants must register directly with AJH by contacting Jackie Ayers: or (970) 920-7081. Requirements include registering  with USA Hockey, signing consent to treat forms, and parent and player code of conduct forms (AJH).  Registration link: