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Fall 2011

Southwest Kansas' "Miracle on Ice"

USA Hockey Sanctions local effort

by Jim Johnson

Thirty one years ago many of us watched TV and cheered as a young, amateur USA Olympic hockey team defeated the world renowned and heavily favored Soviet team to bring home the Olympic gold medal in a game that will forever be known as "The Miracle on Ice". The entire country erupted in joy as those kids brought our national pride to a peak of excitement in Lake Placid. But did you ever ask yourself where those miraculous kids came from?

They came from little towns across America and in virtually every case those kids started playing the game of hockey about the same time they started attending school. They were the product of dedicated parents, amateur coaches, volunteers of all sorts and local skating clubs, leagues and rinks. The system they grew up and flourished in was a program which is even stronger today – USA Hockey – an organization with starts developing hockey players at age 4 and helps them along through youth hockey programs, high school hockey, into junior and/or college hockey. The best are selected for the USA Olympic team and a few move on into professional hockey in one of the many professional leagues across the US.

And now there will be a starting point for the climb to future greatness in this thrilling sport out on the high plains of Kansas!

The United Wireless Arena just outside of Dodge City is working with the newly formed High Plains Youth Hockey Association (HPYHA) to introduce local kids and families to the "Fastest Game on Ice". The inaugural season will be 10 weeks long beginning October 20, 2011 and continuing to just before Christmas with one evening class each week after school. The HPYHA is conducting two information and sign-up meetings and those interested need to attend one or the other so they can register. The first will be September 18, 2011 and the second on October 9, 2011. Both meetings will be at 2:00 pm at the Dodge House Hotel and Convention Center. Kids must bring a parent to the meeting as parental permission and participation is necessary.

Both boys and girls are welcome to participate. Kids will be taught to hockey skate properly and how to play the game through the use of lessons, drills and games designed to build character, strength and agility and to teach teamwork and sportsmanship.

The HPYHA is officially affiliated with the Mid West Amateur Hockey Association and the national governing body - USA Hockey. Board members and coaches with the HPYHA include Austin Swift, Jim Johnson, Rachel Rydel, Chris Sheppard, Howard Fisher, and Alan Stukenholtz. More volunteer help will be needed both on and off the ice. Its a very rewarding experience.

Several local businesses and organizations have stepped up to help out. The Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas provided a start up grant. Magourik Chevrolet has generously purchased equipment starter sets (helmets, gloves, sticks, pads, pants & jerseys) for kids aged 4 through about 10. These sets can be borrowed with a small deposit and the deposit will be refunded when the sets are returned in good condition at season's end. Initially, kids can rent skates at the arena until they can purchase their own via several online sources.

Older youths will need to acquire a helmet, gloves and stick to participate. Safety is paramount and no one will be allowed on the ice without proper equipment and proper supervision. HPYHA officials can help obtain the necessary gear. They stress that though hockey is a relatively expensive sport, the board of directors has committed to seeing that all kids who are willing to work and participate will have that opportunity. They believe that local businesses will step in to assist disadvantaged kids.

If you have questions or comments, please contact the High Plains Youth Hockey Association. The email is highplainsyouthhockey@gmail.com. Visit the website at: http://www.highplainsyouthhockey.org. You can also call 620-408-6877.

 


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