(BPT) – Enrollment in youth hockey is at an all-time high in communities across the country. According to USA Hockey, a record 562,145 players registered to play in the 2017-2018 season, with 187,492 of those players ages 10 and younger.
Former nine-time NHL(R) All-Star and current NHL analyst for NBC Sports, Jeremy Roenick, remembers how important his community rink was to him while growing up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, which had a chain-link fence perimeter instead of the standard plexiglass.
‘Looking back, the rink and surrounding community was an integral part of my hockey career,’ said Roenick. ‘It was my first chance to show the world what I had to offer and to make something of myself. Because of this, I think it’s so important to give every single kid who wants to play hockey the opportunity to learn and grow in healthy, well-kept rinks, no matter where they may live.’
Roenick went on to say, ‘The rink I played at in Connecticut had locker rooms that doubled as 300-square-foot storage closets which were down a steep flight of stairs. There was no room to move or change in and out of equipment. And some of these smaller communities I’ve been to have leaking roofs or lack of access to adequate equipment for all the kids who want to play.’
Based on the recent surge in youth hockey enrollment, it’s more important than ever to give our local communities a boost. Hockey not only provides a great workout, but according to USA Hockey, the sport helps promote confidence, pride, focus and responsibility.
Feeling inspired to help your local hockey community? Try one of these:
1. Nominate your local rink for Kraft Hockeyville(TM) USA 2019 by March 2.
Kraft Hockeyville(TM) USA 2019 is the search for America’s most passionate hockey community. The program celebrates the spirit of local hockey communities and will award one town the opportunity to host an NHL(R) Pre-Season Game, win $150,000 toward rink upgrades, and $10,000 worth of equipment from the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Goals & Dreams fund. Visit www.KraftHockeyville.com for more information and to nominate your local rink. Follow @KraftHockeyvilleUSA on Facebook or Instagram, and @HockeyvilleUSA on Twitter.
2. Volunteer your time and energy.
There is always room for another helping hand at your local hockey rink. Facilities need motivated volunteers to assist with programs, special events and daily operations. By volunteering, you’ll be able to help support your local rink’s mission, make a difference in the community and meet new friends. Call or visit the rink in your hometown to learn how you can get more involved while serving your community.
3. Hold a fundraiser that’s fun for your whole community.
Youth hockey rinks across America rely on funds to help ease the cost of hockey for local families, and are often underfunded when it comes to basic rink needs. By planning a family-friendly social fundraiser, you’ll unite members of the community to rally together for a great cause. Some of our favorite – and most successful – fundraising ideas involve hosting a bowling night or serving up a pancake breakfast after an early morning practice.
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