One small step can also be a giant leap. Sometimes all it takes is a little push.
Total Hockey and Bauer are teaming up to give new families the opportunity to get involved with hockey by tearing down one of the biggest barriers to trying the sport – the cost of new equipment.
The program is called First Stride, and it took its first step toward reaching its national goal by introducing 45 youngsters in Colorado Springs to the game through a free one-hour introductory learn to play session.
“This is the most rewarding part of hockey for me,” said Brian Copeland, hockey director for Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association. “When the families see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they take the first step onto the ice, they’re sold right there.”
Added John Luetkemeyer, director of player growth initiatives at Total Hockey, “It’s important for us to grow the sport of hockey. …It’s a sport we believe in.”
Total Hockey and Bauer are putting their money where their mouths are by outfitting each kid in new gear, minus the skates. And the best part is that the gear is theirs to keep if they sign up for the upcoming season
“This is a big hurdle to getting families into hockey,” Copeland said of equipment costs, adding that each player probably received $300 to 400 worth of equipment to play in.
Following the on-ice session, Copeland hoped for a 25 to 50 percent conversion rate. Over the course of the next four months, Total Hockey is targeting about a dozen similar events in places like Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit that can help introduce more kids to the sport.
Susan Archuleta, whose 8-year-old son Jonas participated in the event this past weekend, heard about the initiative from a family friend. With her son wanting to finally ice skate with a stick and puck, Susan thought First Stride would be a great opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. She intended to sign up Jonas after the session.
“We’re working with many associations to finally close the deal,” Luetkemeyer said. “The thinking is, ‘Let’s not let them go.’ We have the families and parents there — let’s close them.”