Kids learning teamwork and camaraderie through hockey
Photo courtesy Seattle Junior Hockey Association
Children across Snohomish County are getting experience
on the ice through the Seattle Junior Hockey Association, which holds events at ice rinks in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, including its semi-annual “Try Hockey for Free” event next happening Saturday, March 5.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — The Seattle Junior Hockey Association (SJHA) is providing opportunities for children to learn how to play hockey for free or at a low cost, as the arrival of the Seattle Kraken NHL team has sparked an interest in the sport.
The SJHA utilizes two rinks, Olympicview Arena and Lynnwood Ice Arena, both in Snohomish County.
Olympicview will be hosting a “Give Hockey a Try” event and beginner hockey sessions in the spring.
“It’s all about visibility, we’ve had a really strong hockey community here in Seattle for decades, Seattle Jr. was founded in 1974, believe it or not,” SJHA Director Marty Rubin said. “We already have the structure, now more people have been turned on to the game and understand that there are options that exist for them here in Seattle.”
“Give Hockey a Try” is an event that provides children up to 12 years old with the opportunity to try out the game of hockey before committing to a program. Children with no experience can come skate for free, with all gear provided by the rink, and get help from various coaches and volunteers.
“That’s the beautiful thing about Seattle Junior, the amount of support we get from volunteers in our community, and it makes this family feel to our association,” Rubin said.
These events are hosted quarterly, and sign-ups are currently available for the event taking place on Saturday, March 5 from 8:15 to 9:30 a.m. at Olympicview Arena, 22202 - 70th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace.
For those who are committed to learning how to play hockey, SJHA also hosts quarterly beginner hockey sessions, which last for 8 to 10 weeks. Players will learn the basic skills of skating and how the game truly works, this prepares skaters with the knowledge they’ll need to play on a full-season team.
Lewis Solberg, a five-year-old hockey player from Edmonds, has learned the game of hockey through this beginner program, taking after his older brothers.
“I like hockey because I like skating fast, I like scoring goals in hockey too,” Solberg said.
A new round of sessions will begin March 12, the lessons will take place on Saturday mornings. Sign-ups are currently being held. Summer beginner sessions will also be taking place for the first time this year, to allow beginner players to get a head start in learning the game before the season starts.
“We call it Learn to Play Hockey or beginner hockey, but it’s much more skills-based, and it’s focused on learning how to hold your stick the right way and learning how to take your strides and edges the right way so that when you do matriculate to a full season and you’re on a team, then you can learn the more pieces of the culture,” Rubin said. “Whereas before, we were kind of taking a small group of kids and trying to teach them a lot of things at once, we’re really focusing on the skills right now.”
As hockey has grown so much in Snohomish County communities, it is bringing in a diverse group of kids who would like to try the sport. SJHA’s goal is to be as welcoming to every child as possible and to provide a safe and accessible experience for everyone to try.
SJHA recently hosted its first Social and Emotional training event, where a special education specialist will be coming to train SJHA coaches on how to work with neurodivergent children. The goal of this event is to help provide kids with autism, ADHD, and other neurodivergent children with a safe environment to play hockey. SJHA wants to be as inclusive as they can and to be able to allow children of all backgrounds and differences to enjoy the sport.
Signups for “Try Hockey for Free” and beginner hockey sessions are available on the SJHA website, www.sjha.com.
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