Youth hockey all over the region has seen a decline in participation over the past few years. This is a result of many factors, from heightened cost to increased competitiveness. Bobby McConnell, co-coordinator for the Edina Hockey Association Mite Program, hopes to bring more kids back to youth hockey.
Upon moving to the area from Colorado, McConnell considered the Minnesota hockey environment “overwhelming even for someone who knows hockey.” He believes this is partly why Edina’s program, along with many others, is experiencing lower turnout. Prior to this season, McConnell tried to get a sense of what was happening. He found that in addition to the high costs, local hockey programming faced two other problems—advanced kids were moving to elite “boutique” hockey clubs and kids new to hockey felt intimidated by the sport.
McConnell used this information to begin a transformation. First, the overall cost of participation (fees and equipment) has been lowered. Second, the program is striving to cater to both advanced players and first-timers. EHA has a new curriculum to ensure coaches teach the same skills and techniques to every team. Coaches can then focus on who needs more help or who needs to be further challenged.
McConnell says, “[Hockey] is never about just one kid, it’s about the entire team.” The advantage of a public association teaching a child is that value placed on teamwork, which, McConnell says, “is what makes hockey awesome.” McConnell also stresses simply having fun. With frequent team-building games and jamborees, the excitement and enjoyment of the sport is never lost throughout this program.
You can register your child for Mite Hockey at here.