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Proposal Put Forth Could Dismantle Wisconsin Selects

By Dan Bauer, Contributor, 06/05/22, 6:15AM CDT


Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in Lockroom Logic are solely those of Dan Bauer and do not reflect the opinions of Wisconsin Prep Hockey or its partners. Dan presents his opinions based upon his lifetime of teaching and coaching experience and we present them unedited.

This spring, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the Wisconsin Selects U-19 Tier II girls’ team marched their way through five hard fought victories to reach their first ever national championship game.  In just six seasons, the Selects had become a successful before and after team, featuring girls from across the state.  They fell one win short in the championship game losing to the East Coast Wizards 2-1.   It was a tremendous accomplishment and a thrilling once in a lifetime experience for many of the players.  On a national stage, the girls from Wisconsin put forth a great performance.  

In the aftermath of their achievement there was stunning silence from the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) and its board members.  There were no congratulatory calls, texts or emails from the powers that be at WAHA.  Nothing on their webpage, or social media, in fact there was no mention at all.  It was a stark, but not surprising, action speaks louder than words shunning of the Selects program from their home state’s leadership.  

Now a month removed from the Selects impressive run at a National Championship, WAHA’s very own Andy Bradford has pushed forward a proposal that requires nationally bound Tier II programs to be “community or regionally” based.  Currently the Selects take players from the entire state.  The new proposal would open the door for all of the Wisconsin Elite Hockey League (WEHL) teams to be eligible for the national tournament, but would close the door on the Selects and the Jr. Stars.  WAHA’s Tier II committee would have authority over “composition of boundaries” for all teams.  Based on past history, WAHA will not be inclined to grant the Selects the state of Wisconsin as their boundary.  WAHA refused them a roster exemption last year forcing them to release a player mid-way through the season.  Imagine finishing second in the nation and then having your own governing body pull the rug out from under you.  Bradford’s rationale for moving U-19 to this model was “it makes sense given the growth of hockey”.  If he were a politician, I could expect an answer that vague and void of any details.  

If you haven’t been following along with the WAHA/Selects rift, you can catch up here:  (  The Cliff Notes is that there is a serious divide between the Wisconsin Selects program and WAHA’s favorite son, Team Wisconsin.  In no uncertain terms, WAHA’s Mike Larabell made it clear last fall that they would like Wisconsin Selects to disappear.  Bradford’s proposal, which affords no clear current benefit to girl’s hockey, provides them with the method to eliminate the Selects program.  The timing, in the wake of their National Tournament success, is baffling.   WAHA’s board has already come out in support of the change.  

The contempt WAHA has for the Selects program is clear.  On their webpage you will find a link to Team Wisconsin, Milwaukee Junior Admirals, Madison Capitals and the Wisconsin Elite League, but no mention of the Wisconsin Selects.  Six years ago Mike Cowan created the Selects program as an alternative to Team Wisconsin, with WAHA’s full approval.  Tier I teams have the entire state as their boundary, but now suddenly, Selects will be required to operate in a WAHA approved boundary.  

Team Wisconsin, Wisconsin Selects and the fall (WEHL) are all valuable and needed opportunities for the girl’s game.   Each serves girls hockey with a varying choice of skill, commitment and cost effectiveness.  Selects fills a much needed gap between TW and the WEHL.  They are all important, and should not be seen as adversaries of each other.  Selects is viewed as threat, but in reality, has become a popular, less expensive, intense and entitled version of Team Wisconsin.  They have found their niche with players looking for more ice time, but not interested in Team Wisconsin’s commitment or the Girl’s WEHL.  Selects is helping to keep girls at home with their WIAA teams, which should be a priority, because that is the key to growth here in Wisconsin.  Bradford is looking to dismantle the competition instead of looking within as to how they might improve TW and the WEHL.  Both programs have weathered their share of criticism, but little has changed.

The answer to why WAHA seems so motivated to end this team is two-fold.  WAHA is concerned because they consider Selects and the Jr. Stars to be rogue U-19 teams.  Rumor of another team being formed has them in a panic.  Regulating that growth could make some sense, but at the same time they have the power to allow the Selects team to continue their success in their current format.  Conversations between Selects general manager Mike Cowan and WAHA are searching to find a compromise to allow the program to continue under the current format and boundaries.  Not surprisingly that solution appears to be tied to the WEHL.

While no one connected with WAHA will admit this “on the record” this is also about jealousy that some girls are choosing Selects over Team Wisconsin and the WEHL.  WAHA Women’s Director Robin Bilsborough alluded to that stating, “strengthening regional programing is in the best interest of girl’s hockey”. Obviously the underlying WAHA plan is that disbanding these Tier II teams will invigorate the WEHL program.  I wish they were equally concerned about the effect the Capitals and Jr. Admirals have on WIAA girl’s hockey, but they aren’t.  Ending Wisconsin Selects will send a poignant message that you have built this strong and successful girl’s program that we should be proud of, but we are going to end it anyway, because we believe the WEHL is more important.  With only twenty-eight WIAA girl’s teams in the state, perhaps a fully rostered statewide WEHL isn’t a reality right now.  It hardly seems that ending a successful girl’s opportunity in the Selects can be the right move.

Our girls from Wisconsin made a bold statement in Philadelphia.  They carried the pride of Badger state hockey all the way to the final game.  Now instead of touting and celebrating the Selects second place finish at Nationals, WAHA has decided to ignore that accomplishment and take away their ability to compete in future National Tournaments.  In supporting this proposal WAHA comes off as spiteful and petty.  If you had a daughter on that team, or a team in the past, you have to feel betrayed and ignored.  It is an unjust response that needs to be reconsidered.  Selects has earned their rightful place in the landscape of Wisconsin girls hockey.

A vote on this proposal is coming soon.  Silence is always viewed as acceptance, so please take a moment to let WAHA know that this proposal is unnecessary and unwanted. Contact Robin Bilsborough, Girl’s Committee Chair:  Tim Pickart, Tier I & II National Bound Chair:  Andy Bradford: Coaching Director & USA Hockey Girls Central District Section Director.  You can find their contact information at:

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Dan Bauer is a free-lance writer, retired teacher & hockey coach in Wausau, WI. You can contact him at

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