The Pikes Peak Catamounts are satisfied with being small, but trying new things.
Based at Sertich Ice Center, Catamounts president Joe Seiberlich said the relatively new hockey organization tries to keep the player-to-coach ratio low and the ice time high.
Nick Bergren, the coach of the squirt (10-and-under) program, said the situation works well for him.
“I think you can lean in a little harder when you know how each kid learns the best,” Bergren said. “When you’re small like us, you’re able to really tailor a curriculum to each kid.”
Bergren encourages teamwork, leadership, work ethic and how to win and lose with grace.
Is the losing part optional?
“Absolutely not. One hundred percent no,” Bergren laughed. “I don’t want them to win every game and I don’t want them to lose every game.”
Seiberlich, whose grandson is a squirt goalie, said after the 2018-19 season the organization was “on really shaky ground” and thousands of dollars in debt, which they set about erasing. Now that they’re “a little above water” with an entirely new board, they’re hoping to grow — a little, comfortably.
The allowed numbers in the building and on the ice due to coronavirus restrictions have creeped up in recent weeks and registration is set to begin soon.
Bergren said the upcoming season presents an opportunity for the Catamounts to “stretch our legs” for the first time. In an effort to keep the extended family together by providing opportunities for players aging out, the Catamounts hope to add peewee and bantam divisions to mite and squirt.
“While we want to grow, we want to do it responsibly,” Bergren said. “We want to maintain our culture and we want to maintain athletes first.”
Bergren has been coaching for about 19 years, five with the Catamounts. He caught the end of Tim Thomas’ family involvement. He said the 2011 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy winner started the organization.
It’s been a process, of course, but they’re pleased with what’s happening at Sertich now.
“We’re not a fit for every family in Colorado Springs and we don’t want to be because we don’t want to grow that big,” Bergren said. “But we also don’t turn kids away.”
It’s not about keeping up with the area’s bigger organizations, though through some tournament wins, they’ve managed to stand out regardless.
“People would say, ‘Where are you from?’” Seiberlich recalled. “‘We’re from right here.’”