The Fayette County Family YMCA began its partnership with the Columbus Blue Jackets (CBJ) NHL franchise this week to bring hockey to several Fayette County children.
Over the summer, local YMCA officials decided they would like to expand their offerings of sports for children, and CEO Doug Saunders reached out to a program he saw and liked called the Street Jackets program. The program — which is one of the many outreach programs the Blue Jackets sponsor — helps to bring street hockey to places that may not have it, available through donations of street hockey equipment and curriculums to teach kids the sport.
According to CBJ Fan Development Coordinator Joe Renza, they also decided to hold a program called the “CBJ Hockey To Go presented by Huntington.” This program helps to remove barriers of entry to street hockey through introductory clinics, all at no cost to the organization taking part. Overall the program aims to introduce the sport in a fun, safe and educational atmosphere.
“The goal of Hockey To Go is to introduce the kids to the sport of street hockey and also to begin to teach them important lessons of teamwork and responsibility,” Renza said. “As part of the partnership for the Street Jackets program we thought it would help stir up an interest in the sport. It also gives us a chance to help guide (Saunders) and his team as they learn a curriculum for their program which is part of the Street Jackets program.”
Renza said it is fairly rare to have this particular deal with the CBJ as usually they have community centers like the YMCA do one program or the other. He said though with the YMCA wanting to start a hockey program, the CBJ were more than happy to help with a brief introduction in the form of the Hockey To Go program.
“The Blue Jackets are proud to welcome Fayette County Family YMCA as their newest Street Jackets Center,” Renza said following the event Thursday. “Through their upcoming Skills & Drills program, the YMCA will be helping break down barriers of entry to hockey, and introducing a new generation to the sport.”
For those who would like to know more about the Columbus Blue Jackets Community Development no-cost programs visit www.bluejackets.com/community.
“The kids and staff in our after school program and others who attended the event were so enthusiastic in their participation in the Blue Jackets Skills and Drills program,” Saunders said on Friday. “Parents have commented to our staff that their kids wouldn’t stop talking about it and can’t wait to play again. It was a great way to expose kids to a sport for whom this was the first time for many. We look forward to having the Blue Jackets back during our 2020 summer day camp. Thanks to the overwhelming donation of curriculum for coaches and flooring hockey equipment, including four sets of goalie equipment, we will be able to carry out this program in Fayette County. We are taking registrations through October 19 for our Rookies (ages 3-5) and School Age (K-6th Grade) floor hockey program.”
The YMCA also has “Skills and Drills Floor Hockey” registration going on for kindergarten-sixth grade. The “Street Jackets Skills & Drills” course will progress each week, covering stick handling, passing, shooting, coordination, movement and game play. Classes will consist of a warm-up, followed by skill development drills and game play, and registration ends on Oct. 19.
“This is one of many partnerships we are happy to be a part of,” Saunders said. “We are also partnering with the Nike Community Ambassadors program to bring Nike employees to the YMCA one day per week to provide physical education to kids enrolled in our after school program. As we look forward to our expansion opening in January, floor hockey is one of many new opportunities that we will have to make a meaningful impact on the health and well-being of our kids and families.”
For any questions please contact the Fayette county Family YMCA (740) 335-0477 or visit its website at faycoymca.org. The information in this article was provided by CBJ Fan Development Coordinator Joe Renza.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.