Feb 17, 2013, 12:38 PM EDT
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.
Apr 26, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT
That’s a fairly modest increase compared to some of the jumps we’ve seen in the past.
Apr 26, 2015, 10:16 PM EDT
He has every right to be.
Apr 26, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT
Montreal will now play either Detroit or Tampa Bay.
Apr 26, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT
Oshie thinks the core has “been playing some pretty good games since the playoffs.”
Apr 26, 2015, 7:42 PM EDT
Montreal had a 1-0 lead at the time.
Apr 26, 2015, 6:58 PM EDT
They got a big task ahead of them.
Apr 26, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Habs and Wild look to advance with Game 6 wins.
Apr 26, 2015, 6:18 PM EDT
Minnesota’s earned the right to challenge Chicago again.
Apr 26, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT
He’ll undergo further testing in the not too distant future.
Apr 26, 2015, 4:58 PM EDT
Brian Elliott is on in relief.
Apr 26, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
That’s one Allen has to have.
Apr 26, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
He suffered two concussions this season.
Apr 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
The newly appointed Edmonton executive is already busy in his new role.
Apr 26, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Eric Fehr would be ready for the second round.
Apr 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Philly fired Craig Berube on April 17.
Apr 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
He last played at the 2006 tournament.
Apr 26, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
He didn’t play the second half of Friday night’s win.
Apr 26, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
Chorney and Dumoulin could also head back to Wilkes-Barre for their playoff run.
Apr 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
He’s been a healthy scratch for three games.
Apr 26, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
Blues and Sens need wins to force Game 7
- Price makes 43 saves as Senators’ magical run ends in controversy 15
- Video: Fast whistle costs Senators potentially critical goal 11
- WATCH LIVE: Today’s Stanley Cup playoff action 3
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance 84
- Crosby joining Team Canada at Worlds 16
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for today 12
- One more time, with feeling: Flames stage yet another comeback, eliminate Vancouver 25
- Keith conquers: Blackhawks come back, eliminate Predators 49
- Red Wings smother Lightning, take 3-2 series lead 23
- Going the distance: Isles edge Caps to force Game 7 43
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (114)
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (108)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance (85)
- Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles (82)