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.
Mar 2, 2015, 2:15 AM EST
It’s a first round and third round selection heading to Philly.
Mar 2, 2015, 1:50 AM EST
Tampa gets a pair of second-rounders.
Mar 2, 2015, 1:20 AM EST
Elliott and Allen saw action Sunday night.
Mar 2, 2015, 12:30 AM EST
Dallas’ skid reaches six games.
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Winnipeg moves three points back of Chicago in the Central Division.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:50 PM EST
Malkin had a third straight three-point game.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:05 PM EST
He collided with Ales Hemsky.
Mar 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EST
The Washington forward remains in the game.
Mar 1, 2015, 8:30 PM EST
The Sharks get a fourth-round pick.
Mar 1, 2015, 8:00 PM EST
Both teams also swapped draft picks in the deal.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:36 PM EST
Dallas looking to snap a five game skid.
Mar 1, 2015, 7:06 PM EST
He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:45 PM EST
Both are free agents after this season.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:35 PM EST
It started with a Matt Greene hit on Mark Scheifele.
Mar 1, 2015, 6:15 PM EST
The Pens’ captain was unharmed on the play.
Mar 1, 2015, 5:56 PM EST
He’s 14 back of Marcel Dionne.
Mar 1, 2015, 4:20 PM EST
All the blockbuster details have been updated.
Mar 1, 2015, 3:38 PM EST
Sunday’s expected starting goalies.
Mar 1, 2015, 3:02 PM EST
Could Philly move him by Monday?
Mar 1, 2015, 2:22 PM EST
The Islanders winger was February’s best first-year player.
- Trade: Rangers land Yandle, Coyotes receive Duclair, first-rounder 65
- Trade: Capitals land Glencross, Flames get two picks 23
- Flames place Giordano on IR 5
- Flyers keep faint playoff hopes alive with win over Rangers 28
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder 74
- Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut 1
- Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss 5
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 7
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 9
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 13
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (149)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)