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Posted on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

USA Hockey in search of Ann Arbor-area homes for incoming players

By Matt Durr

As the new school year begins, some future students at Pioneer High School are in search of a place to stay. The USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program is looking for host families for some incoming players.

“We’re looking for a healthy environment for the guys to spend their non-hockey, non-school hours,” said Jake Wesolek manager of communications and marketing for the USA NTDP in Ann Arbor.

The NTDP is a developmental program for some of the country's top 16- and 17-year-old players. These players represent the U.S. in tournaments all over the world and against teams in the United States Hockey League and NCAA Division I and III schools. The players also get a chance to showcase their skills for scouts on the collegiate and professional levels. Both the U-17 and U-18 teams bring in 23 players a year for the program.

Part of being in that program is living with a host family. The families are asked to give the players a place to stay as well as helping them with transportation and meals, just like they would with their own children.

Aside from going to school at Pioneer and keeping up with their studies, the players are expected to help around the house.

“We hold all our kids to the highest standards,” Wesolek said. “We want them to go in there and experience that family setting. They get a lot more out of it if they work with their family.”

To ensure that the players have the best experience possible, the players and the families meet and discuss any potential problems or conflicts before moving a player into the home.

Many families that have signed up in the past, have hosted a new player each year, according to Wesolek.

“Its cyclical, we’ll have families that come and do it for a few years and then certain things come up and we move on.”

One of the perks of being a host family is seeing these players grow before they reach the highest levels of hockey,

“They can see these kids in the NHL, or in college, down the road,” Wesolek said.

More than 180 NTDP players have been drafted by NHL teams with more than 60 former players appearing in the NHL last year.

With 46 players coming to Ann Arbor each year, the NDTP is always looking for host families, but with this year's group of players scheduled to arrive over Labor Day weekend, they're hoping to find more housing soon. While some temporary housing has been arranged for players, a permanent host family is needed for a few players, Wesolek said.

Those interested in becoming a host family should contact the USA NDTP at 327-9251 ext. 323 or send an email to:

Matt Durr covers sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2532