Sunday, 4 August 2013

Hockey Canada working to make hockey accessible to all, Part 3

Maybe a final thought about Hockey Canada trying to make hockey accessible is that there are different degrees of hockey, we can't be purists who insist that hockey means minor hockey with coaches and set teams and all that.  In gym class in high school, we played Cosom hockey (does that still exist?) for a while, and we had an intra-mural league, and we'd do that for a month then rotate through volleyball and handball and as spring hit we'd do track and field and softball.  Anyway, everyone loved floor hockey, but the guys who for some reason or other had never played or touched a hockey stick were especially happy to play.  You could tell the guys who played minor hockey, we had more moves, but the other guys and girls were really into it.  Our fantastic phys ed teacher Mr. Roblin would insist on keeping the sticks down, he'd be ruthless about calling a penalty on anyone who raised their stick above their waist for any reason, that kept it safe, and everyone had a good time.  And if we didn't play Cosom hockey, some of our classmates might never have played hockey of any kind.

So ball hockey leagues are a good way to introduce people to the sport, they'll get a kick out of it.  Rollerblading is kind of dying after the big boom in the nineties, but players like Joe Mullen and Brady Vail came to hockey by way of roller hockey, so that should be encouraged also, the cost is minimal to have a paved surface for hockey compared to maintaining an ice sheet.  Here, we have a couple of tennis courts that have been repurposed into a roller hockey area, and it has basketball nets and is used by novice skateboarders when hockey isn't being played.

Hockey Canada should encourage programs like that, we see a few, but they should be seen as not just an add-on, a sidetrack, a luxury, but rather as a feeder system, and just as legitimate as 'real' hockey.  Jonathan Drouin famously started playing ball hockey, he loved stickhandling and dekeing, and would even play hockey on an outdoor rink while wearing snow boots.  Eventually, his parents told him he'd need to learn how to skate to continue playing, and look at how that worked out.

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