Providing education, resources and support to our players, parents and coaches


Beyond the Ice Program

Through the Beyond the Ice Program, we are committed to teaching and developing the life skills and character that will empower our student-athletes to become great teammates and future leaders in society.

Beyond the Ice is focused on providing education, resources and support to our players, coaches and parents to grow and develop off of the ice.

It is our goal to be able to provide these additional growth opportunities for everyone in our program at no additional cost to our families through the Holly Frank Excellence Fund.



In 2024, this essential program will focus on 7 initiatives:

  1. Team Building Activities & Workshops
  2. Guest Speakers / Presenters
  3. Parent Education Programming
  4. Coaching Development Programming
  5. Mentorship Program
  6. Preseason All-Program Gathering
  7. Community Service Activities


The inaugural year of the Beyond the Ice Program is off to an amazing start, having raised $36,000 thanks to the generosity of our donors and the match provided by former program parents Bruce and Susan Edwards & Family! If you would like to support this initiative, click the button to the right.

The Ohio AAA Blue Jackets operate as a 501(c)(3) non profit organization. All gifts are tax deductible as allowed by law. EIN 42-1633311.

Know a speaker who may be a good contributor to our Beyond the Ice programming in 2024? Send your idea to


In 2023, we announced a partnership with Compassionate Connection and the Hockey Think Tank.

Chuck and Topher are outstanding role models with incredible passion to help others. Their extensive hockey resumes allow them to relate to players, coaches and parents alike.

Together, they work with everyone in the program to help them grow not only as a team, but also as families and individuals.

Topher Scott

Hockey Think Tank

A Division I captain and coach, Topher Scott created the Hockey Think Tank as a resource to educate and inspire players, parents and coaches as they navigate through their personal hockey journey. Topher combines his knowledge and experience with his passion for youth hockey to provide educational and inspirational services to the program. He works closely with our coaches to provide insight on hockey development and building team culture. With our teams, he conducts team building exercises that strengthen team camaraderie and individual hockey/life skills. He also provides parent education seminars for our parents on navigating the youth hockey pathway. Topher brings great perspective and new ideas to strengthen not only our player development model, but our ability to teach our kids the life skills to succeed on and off the ice.

A native of Buffalo Grove, IL, Scott captained both the USHL's Chicago Steel and Cornell University. After tallying 107 career points in college, Scott spent 2 seasons playing professionally. Following his playing career, Topher spent 7 seasons as a Division I coach at Miami, Cornell and Michigan and also served as a youth hockey director and coach.

Chuck Thuss

Compassionate Connection

A certified professional coach and motivational speaker, Chuck provides a unique set of coaching skills that support every individual and team that he works with. His primary focus is developing the necessary tools and life skills to help his clients create and achieve their dreams. He is dedicated to helping every person become the best version of themselves while empowering them to learn how to handle every day challenges and adversity. In working with our teams, Chuck opens himself to receive insights from others and creates a safe space for all individuals to share their thoughts and feelings. The process involves an array of topics such as living in the now, living with anxiety and depression, being accountable and taking responsibility for your life and honoring one's self by gearing down and disconnecting to recharge your batteries.

A native of Arkona, Ontario, Thuss was an all-American goaltender at Miami University and the recipient of the Terry Flanagan Award that honors a player for perseverance, dedication and and courage while overcoming severe adversity. He also played professionally for 7 seasons which included a Kelly Cup championship with the ECHL's Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999.


While helping our players develop to reach their fullest potential on the ice is central to what we do, the impact of playing in our program goes well beyond the ice. Our alumni have also gone on to achieve success in education, business, law enforcement, government, engineering and other well-respected industries all over the world. To coin the NCAA, "almost all of us will go pro in something other than sports."

The Edwards Family

Our family has been associated with the AAA program from the very outset. Ed and his coaching staffs have always upheld the values of the program that were established when the organization was originally formed. By holding firm to these values, the program and the players that have been a part of it, have achieved great success in the hockey world. Whether it has been in the junior ranks, the college world or in the professional arena, the numbers speak for themselves. More importantly, the program has been instrumental in developing its players into outstanding young adults that have gone on to wonderful careers. My wife Susan and I count our son Blake as someone who benefited greatly from his involvement with the program.

~ Bruce Edwards (board member & former program parent)

Jeff Michael

Playing for the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets allowed me to build incredible memories, form lifelong friendships and help shape me as a person. It helped me develop the skills of teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. The coaches showed me that being a leader means prioritizing the team's success over my individual goals. Playing in the program forced me to make short-term sacrifices to realize long term success and helped me develop grit by pushing through difficult times.

~ Jeff Michael

A goaltender in the program from 2006-2008, Jeff Michael is currently a principal at BHMS Investments, where he is the head of business development for the private equity firm. Jeff was an entrepreneur from a young age, owning and operating a handful of businesses. As a manager with Ernst & Young's consulting practice, he was awarded the EY Empower Award for his leadership abilities.

Jeff graduated magna cum laude from The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business. As a a member of the the varsity men's hockey team, he was a 4-time recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award and received the Student-Athlete Study Abroad scholarship

Isabel Heminger

Hockey taught so much about discipline, teamwork, commitment and leadership. The greatest thing I learned is that you get out what you put in. In my current role, I work with a diverse group of both professional and skilled trades people. Appreciating and respecting everyone's contribution by working together is key to reaching the desired end result. I continue to draw on organized, focused and committed skills to bring my best self to work each day. This is in the same manner I knew to bring my best self to the rink each time during both my Ohio AAA Blue Jacket and NCAA playing careers. 

~ Isabel Heminger

A member of the OBJ program from 2013-2017, Isabel Heminger now works in project managemenet at Messer Construction in Columbus. She graduated from Penn State University with a BS in civil and environmental engineering and an MBA in business administration from the Smeal College of Business.

Isabel was the first female from Central Ohio to play Division I college hockey. She graduated from Penn State as the program's all-time leader in assists and points as a defenseman.

Drew Kariofiles

Playing in the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program opened more doors in life than I ever would have dreamed were possible. It not only gave me an opportunity to play hockey against the best young players in the country, but more importantly taught me the values of hard work, commitment and helped me find purpose for life after hockey. Three men from the program stood next to me at my wedding. I can truly say my life and career would be much different without the OBJ program. 

~ Drew Kariofiles

Drew is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University (DIII) earning a degree in finance. He served as captain of the 18U team, Topeka RoadRunners (NAHL) and JWU. Drew and was named JWU male scholar-athlete of the year and earned the NAHL Academic Achievement Award in junior hockey. Drew continues to give back to the community, both on and off the ice, and is currently the head coach for Xavier University (ACHA). He currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a Wealth Associate at UBS. 

Clay Thomas

The greatest thing this program taught me was the value of being a great teammate the importance of working towards something that is bigger than yourself. I have learned the values of time management, competitiveness and preparation. The daily habits that I built through this journey are carried with me today in the work place.

My time with the OBJ program has surrounded me with genuinely amazing people who all believe in the same thing. I continue to be so thankful to be a part of this family who pushes and supports me, and I’ll continue to do the same.

~ Clay Thomas

A former captain, Clay Thomas was on the first OBJ team to win a Mid-Am district championship and advance to nationals in 2009. He went on to help the Texas Tornado (NAHL) to a national championship in 2012. He has also spent the past 12 years as an assistant and head coach in the program.

The valedictorian of Westerville South HS, Thomas graduated summa cum laude and has both his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from Ohio State.

He is now a senior engineer at Honda where he works on the modeling, simulation and testing of vehicles and their control software.

Elie Fallieras

As one of the first girls to play for OBJ, it is truly incredible to look back and see how much girls hockey has grown in Columbus. The program taught me so many life lessons but the two that stick out the most to me is leadership and camaraderie. I learned how important it is to be a leader and someone that teammates can look to at any time. I believe the leadership that hockey has taught me plays a huge part in the person I am today in the professional world.

~ Elie Fallieras

One of the pioneers of girls hockey in Columbus, Elie Fallieras is currently in graduate school at Ohio University pursuing her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Her dream is to work with the pediatric population and make a positive impact on the lives of children.

Elie played college hockey at Nazareth University where she won a UCHC (DIII) championship in 2021-22. She was a 3-time member of the UCHC All-Academic Team, an All-American scholar in 2020-21 and the NEHC All-Academic team in 2019-20.

I have so much pride being an alumnus and believe that it was during my time with the program that I learned I was always representing something bigger than myself. There are many values that I still carry with me today in my present career. The program had a big impact on who I am today.

~ Tyler Merritt (alumnus, police officer)


As a non-profit 501-c3 organization, the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets program prides itself on being the premier youth hockey program in Ohio. With an every day mission to develop our student-athletes to reach their full potential on and off of the ice, the program aims to provide a healthy and safe environment for the elite player to grow as a player, person and teammate through the great game of hockey.


It is our goal that the experience of every player in the program instills the values of accountability, work ethic, perseverance and selflessness. Regardless of the path you take in the future, we want you to be prepared to take on whatever challenge that comes your way!

Through this holistic approach, our focus is on the everyday process of development through relationships, teaching and challenging our players to be responsible and accountable for their attitude, effort and performance. We want our program to be represented by high character, competitive people that love the game and possess an internal drive to be great.

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