The McLean County Youth Hockey Association (MCYHA) was founded in 1971 to organize, operate and promote a youth hockey athletic program in the Bloomington-Normal area, and to encourage responsibility, confidence, sportsmanship, teamwork and physical fitness on the part of ice hockey players. MCYHA ran a Mite through High School ice program (known as Badgers and Beer Nuts over the years) at Four Seasons Association, a private club, until Four Seasons closed the ice rink in 1980. For a couple of years after its closing, MCYHA entered teams in the Peoria house league. In 1982, the Skatium rink in Normal was built. MCYHA used that rink as its home ice for a Mite – High School program. That ended a year and a half later when the Skatium was converted into a recreation facility for Illinois State University students. MCYHA youth ice hockey was reorganized to concentrate on an area high school program, known as the Bloomington-Normal Beer Nuts. After losing the Beer Nuts sponsorship a few years later, the name of the team was changed to “Sharks”. The Bloomington-Normal Sharks fielded its first team in 1991-1992 and MCYHA continues to organize at least one area high school Sharks team that plays in central Illinois.
The modern period of MCYHA started in the year 2000, when it added inline hockey activities. A facility for inline hockey was leased at the Interstate Center in Bloomington. A MCYHA owned rink was installed for a house league and a travel team league. When participation levels grew to more than 300 boys and girls in the house league and over 70 boys and girls in the Phantom travel program, a second inline rink was purchased by MCYHA and installed at the Interstate Center. The inline programs flourished until the Pepsi Ice Center opened in Bloomington and the Parks & Recreation department of the city started a youth ice hockey league in 2006. Participation in inline hockey declined in the years after the ice rink opened and the inline hockey rinks were sold a few years later. MCYHA again was reorganized to concentrate on the Bloomington-Normal Sharks, its area high school ice hockey program. The MCYHA ice program has had up to three high school teams in a season and has participated in both the Central Illinois Prep Hockey league (CIPHL) and the Lincoln Land Hockey League (LLHL). Over the years, MCYHA has won championships in both leagues.
The purposes of the organization are:
1. To provide all of the aforementioned high school aged students the opportunity to participate in the sport of ice hockey;
2. To instill the qualities of leadership, character, responsibility, confidence, teamwork, unselfishness, initiative, fair play, sportsmanship, hard work, sacrifice
and physical fitness;
3. To emphasize the importance of academics;
4. To promote, encourage and improve the standard of high school hockey;
5. To conduct a high school hockey program consistent with the rules and regulations of USA Hockey and the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI);
6. To perform and participate in other activities that will aid in reaching these objectives.