SARATOGA COUNTY — Saratoga Youth Hockey (SYH) is offering the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone interested in ice hockey… Two programs that allow anyone with an interest to test the sport out for free.
“Our goal of these programs to is to grow the hockey community in Saratoga and the surrounding areas and also making it much more affordable to get involved with hockey,” said Travis Higbee, board of director member and Learn to Skate Learn to Play coordinator.
These programs involve a partnership with the New York Rangers, which was announced in November 2019.
The first, Learn to Skate Learn to Play, is a 10-week program (that began on January 4, 2020) that runs until March 21 for one hour in the morning. Due to the partnership with the New York Rangers, any child who signs up for a 10-week session receives free hockey equipment to keep.
Half of the kids who are actively participating in this program come from the second program: Try Hockey for Free.
This event will take place on February 22 and the goal is to “get kids on the ice with little or no skating/hockey experience. The New York Rangers coaching staff is onsite and provides all the equipment to borrow for the day,” explains the website.
“This is a Grassroots experience for Saratoga. This time last year at Learn to Skate we had about 30 kids signed up and now we have 65,” Higbee explained.
Currently, 50 kids are signed up for the Try Hockey for Free program, but Higbee is adamant that there are plenty of spaces left.
“The goal is to take kids with zero or very little experience and in skating and/or hockey and get them to Try Hockey for Free. Step two is to get them engaged in the ten-week Learn to Skate Learn to Play program, where they actually get to participate. Then we look to convert them into our Saratoga Youth Hockey programs,” Higbee said.
SYH has age-appropriate programs for all kids who are interested. Mite is for ages fives to 8, Squirt is for 9-and 10-year-olds; Pee Wee is for 11-and 12-year-olds; Bantam is for 13- and 14-year-olds; and Midget is for 15 to 18-year-olds.
“The nice thing about the Rangers having done this in multiple locations in the past, 80% of the kids who did Try Hockey for Free signed up for Learn to Skate Learn to Play. 80% of those kids then convert to either the Mites or the Squirts. It’s great participation and great continuance that they stick with hockey,” Higbee explained.
“It’s literally taking a kid who never potentially played hockey or skated and then getting them into it and eliminating the burden of needing all of the equipment,” he said.
These programs are time friendly and affordable.
For more information, visit these links: www.syhi.org, juniorrangers.leagueapps.com/events/1483549-try-hockey-for-free-at-weibel-arenas-w-saratoga-youth-hockey, and learntoplay.nhl.com/rangers/6257.