San Diego District League opens more doors
Califonia Rubber ( Sept 2015)
By: Andrew Turner
For nearly a decade, the high school game has become increasingly entrenched in the fabric of
California’s hockey community.
Organizations such as the Ducks and the Kings have started these leagues with the goal of
providing further platforms for players to enjoy the game outside of the traditional club route.
To bring in the newcomers, however, much more can be done. The San Diego District Hockey
League is attempting to appeal to this group through a range of options geared towards allowing
peer groups to try out the game together.
“At this age, that is what is more important to these kids…their friends,” league coordinator
Jason Coker said. “Everyone comes into their teenage years, and that’s when new sports get
introduced. What really draws kids into sports is their friends doing them.”
The three-year-old league focuses on making hockey affordable. It offers programs that allow
new players to try hockey for free. Inline hockey is available for those who need to become
Coker says the league has been making a strong push in local high schools, enlisting the kids that
have played at the AA and AAA levels to campaign through club rush events for more members.
He added that it’s tough for the recreational player to relate to those involved in the travel game,
but by having the experienced players help the newer ones, they hope to close the gap.
“It gives an opportunity for the peers to introduce the sport they love,” Coker said of creating
clubs at the local high schools. “It’s a great transition, bringing them in, playing inline hockey,
getting them comfortable with the game, and then a few of them move over to ice hockey.”
Ultimately, the league hopes that its peer-friendly model will breed a wealth of high school pure
The San Diego Districts Hockey League is composed of five sections defined by the school
district boundaries. Competition is carried out in an inter-district format. The league provides
five divisions, from the 8U level to varsity.
As mentioned before, Coker and company have their sights set on the growth of the game. To do
that, they have introduced a non-checking, junior varsity level for high school age students that
want to learn the game.
“They love it,” Coker said. “It gives them an opportunity to play in a non-checking environment.
They try it out, and then some of the kids move up to varsity.”
Coker added that the junior varsity division is not just to the benefit of first-time players.
“It’s interesting because it’s brought kids back into hockey that couldn’t play anymore because
they couldn’t afford another concussion,” he said. “They come back and play junior varsity,
really good players.”
“To have that caliber of players in non-contact and to expose the new kids to that level of play, it
just makes (the league) grow more and more.”
The San Diego Districts League tries to foster an environment that allows its players (past and
present) to fall in love with the game. Todd Wojnicki, who coaches ice hockey for the league,
has seen his son, Cameron, remain involved with the organization after his playing days.
Cameron Wojnicki earned his first win behind the bench in a junior high game recently. Todd’s
team lost, and he said he received a fair deal of “friendly ribbing” about whose team won that
Todd, whose oldest son Jake is referee, says it is very rewarding to see his kids remain in the
“I think it speaks to what the program is all about,” Wojnicki said. “I think it just breeds a
responsibility to the program and to each other.”