Like father, like son: Hockey families blooming in SoCal
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When the Anaheim Ducks and The Rinks launched the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play program, powered by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, a commitment was made to help grow the sport of hockey in Southern California.
This and the newly-created Little Ducks Hockey Initiation programs are designed to create new, free or low-cost channels of entry for beginning youth hockey players to get involved in the sport and learn about the game. Years later, the hard work and dedication by the franchise has clearly shown with new hockey families continually coming through the doors at The Rinks facilities or Honda Center to watch a hockey game.
In 2010, Kelly Roush and her family moved close to The Rinks-Westminster ICE, not realizing how much time they would actually spend there. While Kelly and her son, Austin, were attending one of their first Ducks games, the jumbotron displayed a free learn to play hockey program and caught Kelly’s eye.
Coincidentally, later that night, she received a call from a friend who just signed up her child, and wanted her to join the program, too.
“We knew very little about hockey – we had only been to two Ducks games before and that was only because we were given tickets,” Kelly recalled.
Despite her lack of knowledge about the sport, she signed up Austin for the class anyway.
At the time, Austin liked ice hockey, but not enough to commit to the next steps. Kelly decided to have Austin try an inline session of Learn to Play as well and from the beginning of the class, he was hooked. He continued playing inline hockey for a couple more months in the Hockey Initiation program, an introductory program that gives skaters instruction on the basic hockey skills before going into a league. He loved the program so much that he decided to give ice another chance. The second time around, he found ice hockey to be much easier, thanks to the skills he learned playing inline.
Several months later, while watching Austin zip around the ice, the rest of the family started to get intrigued. His father, Ron, decided to join in on the fun (even though the last time Ron ice skated was 25 years ago) and joined the Anaheim Ducks Adult Learn to Play program. Just like Austin, he enjoyed his experience so much that he continued in the Adult Development program (a program similar to the youth Hockey Initiation in developing new hockey players’ skills before joining an Adult League) and is currently playing in his third season at The Rinks-Westminster ICE.
Meanwhile, Austin’s brother, Evan, also got in on all the hockey action and started playing in the Street Hockey League offered at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline.
“The Learn to Play and Hockey Initiation programs were pivotal in us being part of the sport,” said Ron.
“We had struggled financially for several years and the idea of the free program at the beginning was perfect. The free gear that came with Initiation played a huge part in keeping us playing hockey.”
Ron was also quick to point out that the introductive programs, The Rinks and the Ducks offer, not only helped the family became hockey players, but also hockey fans. They have become dedicated Ducks fans and often watch many Ducks games together and attend a couple each year.
“I never imagined us as a hockey family, but we are all in,” Kelly proclaimed. “We have built a hockey family of friends throughout this process and we couldn’t be happier and it’s all thanks to The Rinks and the Anaheim Ducks.”
— Tanner Privia