Try Hockey For Free Day a rousing success in Anaheim
Give a kid a chance to play hockey just once, and not only will they want to continue playing, but they will also become a fan of the sport for life.
That was the premise behind Try Hockey for Free Day, a nationwide initiative backed by USA Hockey. The Rinks and the Anaheim Ducks hosted Try Hockey for Free Day at The Rinks-Irvine Inline and The Rinks-Westminster ICE as part of USA Hockey’s Hockey Weekend Across America. Between the two sessions hosted at The Rinks on Feb. 20, over 100 children were able to give hockey a shot for the first time.
During Try Hockey for Free Day, children between the ages of 4 and 12 were given the opportunity to participate in an hour-long supervised session. During the session, each of the new players received instruction from The Rinks coaching staff on hockey fundamentals such as skating, stick handling, passing, and shooting and took part in cross-ice hockey games. For the one-hour session, all participants were provided with skates, shoulder and elbow pads, shin guards, a helmet, hockey pants, gloves, a stick and jersey.
“It’s days like this that really put things in perspective for us,” said The Rinks marketing manager Jesse Chatfield. “The level of excitement the kids have to try hockey is amazing. They can’t wait to get on the rink and skate around. This is the largest number of kids we have ever had for one of our Try Hockey for Free Days. To see this event grow each time a couple of our facilities host it, it really shows how much momentum the sport has going for it in Southern California.”
Growing the sport of hockey at the grassroots level has been the primary initiative of The Rinks since its launch in February of 2009 – their mission being “A skate on every foot, a hockey jersey on every back.”
On top of the multiple Try Hockey for Free Days that The Rinks and Anaheim Ducks host throughout the year, they also host the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play Hockey program throughout the year, for both ice and inline hockey, which also allows children the opportunity to try hockey for free. While Try Hockey for Free Day gives kids the opportunity to try hockey for only one hour, the Learn to Play Hockey program lasts four weeks, with a one-hour session happening each week.
Craig Appleby, The Rinks marketing associate, said that the free aspect is what makes Try Hockey for Free Day and the Learn to Play Hockey program so attractive to families that are new to hockey.
“I think anyone who has been around the sport understands that there are a lot of costs associated with playing this game, between all of the gear needed and rink time, and it can really start to add up,” said Appleby. “So much so that it might be a little intimidating to a family that is new to the sport. With so many other sports and activities available to kids, especially here in Southern California, parents aren’t likely to be willing to make the investment not knowing whether or not their child will like the sport once they give it a try. That’s the great part of Try Hockey for Free Day and our Learn to Play Hockey program – we are able to give kids the chance to try the sport of hockey and the families feel no risk or pressure because it is completely free.”
The February Try Hockey for Free Day hosted by The Rinks and Anaheim Ducks was partnered with USA Hockey, which conducts two national Try Hockey for Free Days each season. Now in its sixth season of existence, USA Hockey’s national Try Hockey for Free Days have introduced more than 100,000 children to the sport of hockey.
For more information on Try Hockey for Free Days hosted by The Rinks and Anaheim Ducks, visit www.anaheimducks.com/tryhockeyforfree.
— Jason Effertz