Hockey associations all throughout the nation will be participating in a three-day celebration of the sport of hockey as part of the fourth annual USA Hockey Weekend starting Friday.
In 2008, USA Hockey created Hockey Weekend Across America in an effort to bring hockey communities together and to celebrate all aspects of the sport. The overall purpose of the weekend is to celebrate hockey and expose the sport to new audiences. Hockey Weekend consists of three differently themed days, each highlighting a different aspect of the sport. Friday is “Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey Day” and is sponsored by ShopUSAHockey.com. Bring A Friend to the Rink day, which is sponsored by the NHL, will be held Saturday. The celebration weekend concludes on Sunday with Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes day, sponsored by the Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports Program.
More than 200 programs across America will be participating in this weekend’s festivities, including the Des Moines Youth Hockey Association (DMYHA).
“This is something we’ve talked about doing but this is the first year we’ve taken the initiative to do it,” Scott Long, hockey director for the DMYHA said. “Interest in hockey in town is probably at its highest right now, so we’re feeding off the interest.”
A free hockey clinic for children ages 4-11 is being offered at Buccaneer Arena beginning at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday. Weekend festivities also include a Buccaneers game against the Indiana Ice on Saturday night beginning at 7:05.
“We want to raise awareness that there are opportunities out there to play hockey if people are interested,” Long said. “They don’t have to just feed off the TV and wish they could do it, they can actually come out and try.”
Drake sophomore Jackie Ingmand is a prime example of getting out and playing hockey. Ingmand began playing hockey around the age of 10 while living in Wisconsin, and continued to play through her senior year of high school, even after moving to Tennessee where ice hockey is less prevalent. Due to the lack of hockey teams in Tennessee, and especially the lack of female hockey players, Ingmand played on boys hockey teams from fifth grade until her senior year.
“Being a girl on an all-boys team was something that I always thought was really awesome, just because I knew that I could compete against a higher caliber,” Ingmand said.
After taking a year off from playing hockey her first year at Drake, Ingmand has pursued the sport once again by participating in a Des Moines adult hockey league. The league is recreational, consisting of adults all around the age of 30. Although Ingmand is much younger than her teammates, she enjoys playing hockey simply for the love of the sport.
“I missed being on a team and being active and doing the one thing I really have a passion for,” she said. “I’ve been doing it for half my life and to give it up was really difficult.”
Ingmand, along with several others in the Des Moines area and many accross the nation, have a passion for hockey, which is one of the primary reasons Hockey Weekend Across America is celebrated. For more information regarding Hockey Weekend Across American and the events that are scheduled both locally and nationally, visit www.hockeyweekendacrossamerica.com or dmyha.pucksystems2.com.