skip navigation

2023 Elections - Candidate Statements

By Rapids Comms, 05/01/23, 9:15AM PDT



The following individuals have been nominated to the Steering Committee for elected positions. They met the May 15, 2023 deadline of nomination acceptance and submittal of a candidate statement.  Their statements are reproduced below unedited and in their entirety.

(in alphabetical order)

  • Aaron Olson - Chair
  • Eric Colter - Chair
  • Heather Horlacher - Secretary
  • Jess Calbreath - Registrar



My name is Aaron Olson. I am the current Chair of the Bend Rapids Youth Hockey Club. I am asking for your support and vote to reelect me as Chair for a second term. I have been a volunteer with the Rapids for 7 seasons as a Coach, Steering Committee member, Equipment Manager and Tournament Director prior to serving as Chair.  It’s been a pleasure serving our community and I am eager to continue to do so. 

In the past two years, the BRYHC Steering Committee and I have made strides in strengthening and growing our hockey club; however, I believe we can do more to make the Bend Rapids Youth Hockey Club the premier hockey organization in Oregon. In order to achieve this goal, we must ensure our organization stays on the path we have paved going forward—continuing to grow, to develop, to offer more competitive opportunities as well as to teach and promote hockey culture in our community. This measurable task is a marathon—not a sprint.

All players deserve a dedicated individual that will fight for every opportunity to help them grow and develop here at home, in the state and across the nation—that is my commitment to this community that I call our hockey family. What always keeps me coming back are the smiling sweaty faces I see on the ice everyday!

Thank you for your time and consideration.  LET’S GO RAPIDS!!!

BIO: Aaron Olson was born in Salem, OR and when he moved to Buffalo, NY, he fell in love with the greatest game on earth—Hockey. He started playing at the age of 7, for the Amherst Knights organization, developing his skill to play on 14U AA and AAA teams in consecutive seasons. In 1995, after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, he continued his playing career at 14U AA and 18U AA—competing in a National Championship at the 18U AA Level. After playing for the University of Oregon for 2 seasons, he returned to Oakland, CA and began his coaching career at the Oakland Ice Center as a Hockey Director—running everything from USAH teams at the B, A and AA level to multiple Adult Leagues, Learn to Play, Skills and Drills, Learn to Skate and Summer Camps. He moved to Bend in 2007 with his wife and son and shortly before the Pavilion opened in 2015, he became part of the Bend Parks and Recreation Pavilion staff—developing all of their hockey programing for youth and adults, all of which are still continuing to this day. Now, as a member of the board with Oregon State Hockey Association (OSHA), he continues to build his skill set and knowledge by being involved in the yearly State Development Camps, Coach Education Program and as head of the Competition Committee within OSHA to drive the level of play higher across the state.

Accomplishments of the Steering Committee during Aaron’s 2 year term :

  • Strengthening our Steering and Coaching Committee with positions and members that exemplify our values, culture and commitment to growth and development
  • More hours of ice time for dedicated Goalie Development, afternoon practices for 8U & 10U, and practices through holiday weeks for 3 extra weeks of development at every level
  • Refinement of the BRYHC Vision and Mission to focus on development, growth and more competitive teams
  • Fielded first 16U AA team that qualified for USAH Nationals in Buffalo, NY
  • Strengthened our position within Bend Ice to give the BRYHC a larger stake in the overall community

Aaron’s Individual Accomplishment and current work in progress:

  • Head of the Competition Committee within OSHA to drive higher competition levels across the state
  • Team Leader and Evaluator at the Oregon State Development Camps
  • Coached 12U Team Oregon AA team to a successful tournament in Burnaby, BC
  • Coach at the upcoming USAH 14U National Team Development Program (NTDP) Camp in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Working towards building a dual-sheet year-round rink facility within the next 3-5 years


  • Standardized competition levels across all OSHA organizations
  • Limited opportunities for growth in partnership with BPRD and Bend Ice
  • Creating the best experience possible for our entire community while focusing on growing the game through higher competition levels

The Path Forward:

  • Offering competitive teams at all the age levels we can: A and B at 8U, 10U & 12U and B & A or AA at 14U and above
  • Being creative with practice and game scheduling to give our players the best opportunity to challenge their competition levels in the state and across Pacific Northwest
  • Continuing as the Head of the Competition Committee within OSHA to increase levels of competition across the state at B, A, AA and AAA levels
  • Positioning BPRD with more opportunities to expand our and their hockey programs: Learn to Play, House League, Skills and Drills, etc.



As someone who wears multiple hats in the hockey community—as a player, referee, parent, and coach—I am deeply invested in the future of youth hockey in Central Oregon. Over the past few years, I have dedicated countless hours to advancing the program as much as possible, but I believe there is more I can contribute. After discussing it with my wife and members of the community, I would like to be considered for the position of Bend Rapids Chair. With my background and experience, I am confident that I would be a valuable addition to the Bend Rapids Steering Committee.

My vision for this program is to provide opportunities for every child to play, whether it be at the local state level or for the more competitive travel teams. I have witnessed an incredible amount of high-end talent across all age divisions within this program, and it is crucial that we offer as many opportunities as possible to help these talented individuals achieve their goals. Simultaneously, we must provide less experienced kids with the support they need to succeed.

Throughout my 38 years of involvement in hockey, one lesson stands out: segregating players based on experience and ability, much like in schools, offers all kids an equal chance to succeed or become "the hero." I have been involved with successful programs in the past, and I firmly believe that with some minor adjustments, we can replicate the achievements of teams in the Midwest.

Thank you for considering me for this opportunity.


Eric Colter


I am honored to accept the nomination for the Bend Rapids Secretary position. 

I’ve had the opportunity to watch my son grow and develop his hockey skills with the Rapids over this past 8u ice season.  We are a dedicated hockey family, and my family and I see ourselves being a part of this organization for many future generations. 

I’d love the opportunity to help the Rapids grow and spread throughout the community of Bend. I’d strive  to give every central oregon child the opportunity to play with the Rapids, and connect through sportsmanship, leadership, and mentorship well into their years of adulthood. 

I’m a very dedicated and self driven person who would love the opportunity to work with The Rapids as Secretary. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Heather Horlacher


I am writing to express my interest in serving as the Registrar for the Bend Rapids Steering Committee.  For the past year, I served as the Interim Secretary on the Steering Committee, while our son pursued his continued interest in hockey on the 8U team.  While in this leadership role, I have learned a lot about the history of the BRYH program and the mission/vision for the future.  I hope to take on a more active role as registrar and continue to develop effective systems to grow a strong hockey program in Central Oregon.  

Outside of raising our two boys, I have been a school counselor for the last 15 years.  I currently serve at the district level where I support counselors to develop data driven programming and systems to support the ever changing needs of students and families. I believe that many of these skills will translate to support the continued work of the Rapids Steering Committee.  

With an upcoming 10U and a future 6U player in the program, I have a deep investment in the continued expansion of the sport of hockey in Central Oregon. Our kids LOVE hockey and I feel fortunate that they have the opportunity to play. I would love to see that same opportunity and access for others in our community.  Growing up in MN, I have hockey embedded in my culture, and it has been fun to see this same passion here with our expanding hockey community. 

My hope is that in collaboration with BRYH families and the Steering Committee, we can continue to take steps to make hockey an invaluable yet competitive experience for players.  I would love to dedicate some of my time to this organization that creates such a fun experience for our kids. While many may say it is idealistic, I would love to see us develop into a program that pursues continued improvement to ensure that we are offering hockey at all levels from rec/house to competitive programs, all so we can serve our players right here in our community. I am up for the challenge to collaboratively support the foundation and growth of Bend Rapids Youth Hockey! 

Thank you,
Jess Calbreath