Wednesday, October 7, 2015
USA Hockey learn to skate program makes strides in Plattsburgh
By Anthony Calabrese
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - Learning to skate is important in the sport of ice hockey. Plattsburgh Youth Hockey Association has followed the recommendations of USA Hockey, a sanctioned organization that recommends age appropriate training, by implementing their own version of Learn to Skate.
According to USAhockey.com, “The focus and goal of the Learn to Skate (L2S) curriculums are designed to teach beginner hockey players the fundamentals of skating.”
Plattsburgh area youth hockey has had an overall increase in participants.
Rob Knowles, Plattsburgh Youth Hockey president said “Our organization has grown so much we only had 100 at the start that includes the whole organization, 10 years ago and now we are at 300 skaters and participants.”
Getting started can be tough, hockey equipment can be expensive and many pieces are needed. In Plattsburgh youth can rent the equipment needed for learning to skate.
Robby Knowles, coach/instructor, said “we have some equipment from USA Hockey that are rentals. Most kids bring their own stuff, (and) don’t need a stick. (A) helmet is required, pants and elbow pads.”
Plattsburgh area Learn to Skate starts on Oct. 28, and continues through March 2016. It will take place at the Plattsburgh Ronald B. Stafford Fieldhouse on Wednesdays from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. and will be at either 9:30 or 10:45 a.m. on Saturdays. It is free for children ages six and under. The cost for older children for 30 ice sessions is rather inexpensive when looking at camps throughout the state. For example one camp in New Jersey was 500 dollars for four days of a total of six hours of ice time. Rob said “It is 150 dollars for 30 hours of ice time.”
People have very different perspectives of learn to skate. Rob said “Yes, Learn to Skate is our intro to hockey. I think hockey is a sport that offers not only positives that kids are going to be active, it is also a huge family event.” Knowles continued, “A strength about hockey is that you are always together in the car (travelling). You can bond a lot and learn lessons as a family.”
Hockey is a sport that takes time to develop skills. Spencer Graves Head coach of Plattsburgh Youth Hockey Peewee team said “it gives an opportunity to not just build hockey skills, it’s good for overall coordination, and if they are interested in playing hockey this is a good time for them to figure out if they would like to stick to it or not.”
Ten year old Drew Knowles, Rob’s son, who is a player for the Peewee Plattsburgh Youth hockey team, started Learn to Skate when he was four years old. He said “They always allowed us to use the pushers, I really like sockey (soccer and hockey in one).”
Drew’s favorite thing that he has done while at Learn to Skate is playing 1 on 1s, and 2 on 1s. He said “I have made a lot of friends through Learn to Skate and while I’m playing hockey now at the peewee level, some of the same kids were in my Learn to Skate class.”
One major thing that Drew learned from Learn to Skate is being able to skate backwards during the play.
Richard Botting, a local Instructor/ Plattsburgh State men’s ice hockey player said, “I think they get someone who has hockey knowledge and someone that the kids can look up to. I think that allows them to listen better which ultimately makes them get more out of it.”
Botting wants all kids to know “Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it.”
Rob offered some tips to first time parents. “The most important thing is to be patient, take as much success as your children provides. If your kid only goes out there for 10 minutes be happy he stayed for ten minute before crying. That is something to work off of, and hopefully the next time that they go out they will be able to stay out longer and longer each time.”