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    By Gary Weckselblatt

    Quakertown Community School District will have ice hockey club teams at the high school (grades 9-12) and middle school (grades 5-8) levels for the 2019-20 school year.

    Keith Krem, who has extensive experience playing and coaching for three decades, will be coaching the high school team and heading up hockey operations.

    “We’re really excited about getting started,” said Mr. Krem, who lives in Quakertown with his wife and three children who attend district schools. “We have a lot of really good hockey players in the area, a really good base. The game is for anybody and everybody, boys and girls.”

    Ice hockey club coach Keith Krem.

    Coach Keith Krem

    More than 40 players have signed up to be part of the program, he said.

    Two district parents, Rob Diliberto, a School Director, and Marie McNally, a hockey parent, have been working diligently to spread the word and develop interest in the program.

    “The response from the parents and players has been outstanding,” Mr. Diliberto said. “They are excited to have middle school and high school ice hockey back in Quakertown. There has been an overwhelming response from the players being proud to be representing their school and wearing a Quakertown Panthers logo on their jersey.”

    The inspiration for the program began with Mrs. McNally, a district mom with four sons who play hockey. After Quakertown Borough fills its ice pond during the winter, she’s seen dozens of children play in sub freezing temperatures. “You just realize how much love the community has for the sport,” she said. “I’ve received messages from junior and seniors who tell me they never thought this would happen. ‘Thank you for allowing our dream to come true,’ they have told me.”

    She said her husband Shaun’s love for sport transferred over to her. “There are kids who have never played before, and they just want the opportunity to play,” she said. “Now they’ll have that opportunity in their own community.”

    The team will be part of the Suburban League and play at the Hatfield Ice Arena in Colmar.

    Mr. Krem began his youth hockey playing career with the Lehigh Valley Comets, before moving on to play for the Junior Flyers. He was a member of the Team Philadelphia Quebec Team and also participated in the Atlantic District Development Program.

    For the last 10 years, Mr. Krem has coached for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Youth. He is a level 4 coach and has been a head coach at the U8, U10, U12, U14, U16 and U18 levels. In 2014 he was named Coach of the Year for his work with his Lehigh Valley Flames U18 AA team that saw 10 players move onto Prep, Junior, or College hockey. The following season he was named the first ever Tier 1 Head Coach for the newly formed Tier 1 division of the Phantoms Youth. In 2015 he was named Vice President of Hockey Operations for both Tier 1 and Girls Hockey Operations for the Phantoms Youth Organization.

    Mr. Krem is also a partner of Recruit U Hockey. Started in 2014, Recruit U is a hockey advisement and training company located in the Steel Ice Center (SIC) in Bethlehem. The Recruit U team is responsible for all SIC Hockey programming and instructs players of all ages and skill levels. They have also been instrumental in providing Lehigh Valley players advisement and guidance in moving on to the Prep, Junior, and NCAA levels.

    Kevin Albert will coach the middle school team. Mr. Albert has 11 seasons of coaching and 12 seasons of playing experience. “I believe in the power of positive reinforcement and providing the tools to help players develop their hockey skill set,” he said. “This should be accomplished with a Can-Do-Attitude. In addition, once the correct mindset is in place, I believe strongly in helping the players develop long-term and short-term goals to help them focus on building a hockey career.

    “I am a very passionate and high energy coach who believes in the team concept. Player development is my main objective, as well as providing a safe environment for the player to learn.”

    Said Mrs. McNally: “I’m looking forward to the first puck drop for both the middle and high school.

    For more information, follow the link to the Quakertown Hockey Association Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/401532167297786/

    Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.