In 1937, one of the country’s leading hockey organizations began as the New York-based Amateur Hockey Association of the United States but would change its name to USA Hockey in 1991 and move to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Since its inception, the organization has focused on promoting the sport at the grassroots level. One of the ways it has done this is to get children interested in playing the game using the American Development Model, which offers hockey associations with a template for age-appropriate instruction of the game to children.
Friday, November 19, 2021
In the national and international arena, USA Hockey is a national governing body for the sport. It is the official representative of the Olympic and Paralympic Committees and International Ice Hockey Federation. Outside of these functions, the organization arranges training for athletes for international tournaments and works closely with the National Hockey League and National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The organization offers a variety of programs for people who want to play and coach the sport. Even though youth hockey is the organization’s focus, it also supports adults' programs. To ensure that industry standards are adhered to, the organization also offers coaches and officials certification programs. Finally, parental education on equipment use, their role in the game, and rules of the game are also important to USA Hockey.
In 2020, however, the USA Hockey program had focused on attracting girls to the sport. One of the ways they have done this is through the efforts of Don Gould, the Girls/Women’s Section Director for the organization. His narrative begins 20 years earlier when he volunteered with an organization seeking out girls interested in the game. Today, he continues to promote the sport to girls and women, even if the interest and acceptance are not there.
In his role as director, Gould has focused on growth, visibility, and leadership. Under his guidance, the girl’s program has experienced some measure of growth, with each year the organization seeing a six percent increase for girls between eight and 18, which is incredible. In the future, Gould says they are shooting for a six percent or more growth rate.
In terms of leadership, Gould has also been at the forefront of assisting USA Hockey with hosting a leadership conference, including one coming up in 2022. His goal is to bring male voices into the conversation and include voices that empower women. Finally, all of these activities are being done to raise the visibility of the organization.
Another event that USA Hockey hosted is Try Hockey For Free, held on two separate days. The first event was held on November 6, 2021, and the second event will be held on March 5, 2022. The event allows children to try out the sport at local hockey rinks, and since launching this event, an estimated 214,000 children have played the game in national events.
Parents do not have to worry about purchasing equipment because it is provided, and the children do not need any experience to participate. This event is the opportunity for children to learn skills from USA Hockey certified coaches and volunteers.
The organization estimates that 300 sites hosted the November 6 event. Those interested in participating in the event can visit TryHockeyForFree.com to get more information on the March event.
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