If you don’t have a kid who plays hockey, AAA is the call you make when your car breaks down. AA puts you on a twelve step program to sobriety. A is what you want your children to strive for in school. But for hockey parents, those letters have a whole different meaning.
USA Hockey designates certain leagues throughout the country as Tier I and Tier II to create separate levels of play. Tier I or AAA leagues offer the highest level of competition with a lot of hockey, between 60 and 90 games! Value can be argued but that higher level usually means sacrifice at every level for your family.
For Wasilla hockey mom Diane Firmani, the road to Triple A play would have meant one road, literally to Anchorage, one of only two cities in the great state of Alaska to offer AAA play. A gas guzzling hour and a half drive, costly coaching and registration fees as high as $7,000 upfront, just didn’t add up as a good choice for her family. Firmani’s older son, Chancie was recruited as a Bantam, but his parents made him to wait until he was a Midget and could drive. “Honestly, it doesn't make a particle of difference until Midgets, “says Firmani, “At the younger levels, it's merely bragging rights for the parents and instant martyrdom. I heard stories of parents refinancing their house so their kids could play at the AAA level! To quote Dolly Parton "Get down off the cross, honey, somebody needs the wood."
Minnesota Hockey dad Peter Williams, President of the Champlin Park Hockey Association advises parents to be smart consumers, “Pick a program that has quality coaching, convenient location, and predetermined costs. If they are asking for an open ended commitment, don’t do it. “ William’s Bantam son and 12 U daughter now concentrate on training and play multiple sports.Aaron Haider says AAA play was worth every penny. His son is a goalie for the 2011 Minnesota Blades and was asked to try out for his first AAA team when he just 8 years old. “It has helped him tremendously become the goalie he is today.”
NHL.com reporter Mike Morrreale shares this assessment, “if you are good enough you will be found whether it's A, AA, or AAA - players aren't defined by a letter, they define themselves!”