Feb 17, 2013, 12:38 PM EST
Today is Hockey Day in America, an all-day celebration of the sport throughout the United States. NBC will air nine hours of live coverage across its networks; here at PHT, we’re taking a look at stories of hockey’s impact across the country.
Hockey can teach skills like teamwork, creativity, and perseverance, but the costs associated with playing the sport can be daunting for many families.
That’s why programs like Ice Hockey In Harlem are so important.
Ice Hockey In Harlem is a non-profit organization that accepts applications from boys and girls ranging from ages of four to 10 that live north of 110th Street in Harlem. The program includes age-specific activities through the age of 17 that are focused on developing academic skills, as well as playing hockey.
Devin Gonzalez, 16, is one of the many youths the program has helped. He’s been with the program for 16 years.
“Being on ice is like being in another world,” Gonzalez told USA Hockey. “It is the highlight of my day. I owe so much to Ice Hockey In Harlem — the opportunity to learn and play this sport was a gift.”
Gonzalez spoke not only of his passion for the sport, but also his time taking part in the book club run by the coaches.
“They not only coached on Fridays, but they also stayed around to read and discuss hockey books with us,” Gonzalez said. “We learned about the sport’s history and even a fancy vocabulary.”
Rob Schoenbach, a public school science teacher who also serves as a volunteer coach, emphasized that the IHIH is about more than just playing hockey.
“We’re trying to also create a bigger scope for the kids themselves,” Schoenbach told NHL.com. “They get to socialize and have the experience of being on a team, and the team isn’t just at the rink or in the locker room — we’re creating a community.”
There are over 1,000 stories like Gonzalez’s thanks to Ice Hockey In Harlem, according to the Rangers’ website. Many, like Gonzalez, might not have gotten an opportunity to play hockey at all if not for this program.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
The founder of the program, Dave Wilk wrote that “Ice Hockey in Harlem was an oxymoron when we began.”
He first had the idea while studying at the University of Pennsylvania and was given the essay question, “What if you had a year off and nothing to do?”
“One part of my response was that I’d start a program for hockey in an inner-city environment,” Wilk remembered. In 1987, he made that a reality with the help of Upward Fund.
“So I went into Harlem in September of 1987 and I met with some kids who were playing street hockey with Upward Fund,” Wilk said. “They were interested in playing on ice as well. That’s how I started to recruit the first group of kids. I scrounged equipment from CCM, and we got this program off the ground.”
They started with 25 kids and have ballooned to the point where they open its doors to up to 225 students, so as Gonzalez begins to outgrow the programs, many new youths will get the same opportunity he has.
“I am so thankful for it and only hope that the organization continues to service boys and girls in Harlem and throughout,” Gonzalez said.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:52 AM EST
“It shouldn’t be a part of hockey,” said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:51 AM EST
Could be bad news. Could be good. All depends who you cheer for.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:33 AM EST
Boston d-man has struggled this season, but could be on the move by Mar. 2.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:17 AM EST
Los Angeles is currently out of the West’s top eight.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:16 AM EST
“Show up to your job, and you’re off suspension.”
Jan 28, 2015, 11:08 AM EST
Jim Rutherford, really working the phones.
Jan 28, 2015, 10:36 AM EST
“I got nothing left here.”
Jan 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EST
Both teams played last night.
Jan 28, 2015, 8:46 AM EST
Wednesday’s links lean toward a legend.
Jan 28, 2015, 1:45 AM EST
Vancouver has now been shutout in back-to-back home games.
Jan 28, 2015, 1:00 AM EST
Pittsburgh was without Crosby and Malkin.
Jan 28, 2015, 12:15 AM EST
He’s going to need some dental work.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:45 PM EST
Philly erased an early 2-0 deficit to earn two points.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:15 PM EST
Carolina is now 7-1-2 in January.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:45 PM EST
Both players are unrestricted free agents after this season.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:15 PM EST
Okposo missed his first game due to an upper body injury.
Jan 27, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
Received a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding.
Jan 27, 2015, 9:00 PM EST
Happened during the first period tonight in Philly.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
The 19-year-old underwent hip surgery in November.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:05 PM EST
The Philly starter allowed two goals on the first four shots.
- No hearing scheduled for Kesler after ‘dirty play’ on Dorsett 0
- Why NHL fans — no matter where they live — should care about the plunging Canadian dollar 1
- Trade: Pens acquire Lapierre from Blues for Goc 59
- Video: Habs’ Emelin ejected for hit on Stars’ Spezza 24
- Martin Brodeur to retire, become Blues asst. GM (Updated) 41
- Mike Richards clears waivers 32
- Game on: Islanders-Rangers to be played despite storm 15
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang 57
- Isles’ rise to be tested as they lose Okposo for 6-8 weeks 17
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards 127
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards (127)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)
- Trade: Pens acquire Lapierre from Blues for Goc (59)
- Video: NHL offers Flyers’ Rinaldo in-person hearing (57)