First, let me say that I am very appreciative of the fact that these RHA individuals are trying to step up and do something positive for the sport of inline hockey. I know the majority of these folks, some I consider friends, others wouldnít know me if they were coaching against me in a game. That doesnít really matter to me. To me the thing that matters is that these individuals have earned my respect in the inline community - by their prior actions! They are not afraid to put their time and name towards something new to try to grow this game. You may not agree with this, but that is not the reason I am posting here.
If you review the RHA threads that have been going on so far, people are getting caught up with Insurance, Coaching Certification, and plenty of talk about the tournaments these guys run as well as other things. These are all very interesting discussions and obviously things that need to be resolved; otherwise people would not be nearly as passionate about them. But, are they going to matter if we donít get new blood into this sport? Can we talk about this instead of always going back to these other sticking points? Letís leave those discussions in another thread and start a thread where we throw out suggestions on how to get new kids involved.
At the end of the day, the bulk of inline players donít play in tournaments, donít travel, donít play ice, but still want to play. How do we introduce this great sport to a younger generation to get them involved, even if they never walk through the door of a major tournament? On the RHA website there are two goals that really havenít been discussed on this board Ė Grass Roots Task Force and Create a Roller Hockey Roadmap. Knowing the RHA members, I donít think this is something that they just want to do on their own, so letís generate ideas for them. Letís generate ideas for everyone, even if you arenít ready to get involved with the RHA. Ideas donít have to be right or wrong, but they should be put on the table for discussion. Everyone is doing something at their rink to try to promote this sport, so letís hear what you are doing. Maybe you donít have a rink, youíre a parent, youíre an adult player Ė that doesnít mean you canít have an idea of how we can do things locally.
I have hesitated to join any RHA discussions because it seems they always turn negative. Iím sure there are others who have just been reading along too because they donít want to have someone criticize their opinion. Letís keep this thread positive. No idea is a bad idea, so what do you think?
I do not own a rink, nor do I work at a rink. My son is probably almost done playing this sport, and my younger son has no interest in playing. I am simply a parent whose kid starting playing about 11 years ago. I am trying to think of why he started playing and how he got involved. Here in our area we have traditional roller skating rinks that also have t-shirt leagues. I had absolutely no idea any of this was going on until my kindergartener came home from school with a flyer from the local roller skating rink. That is how it all started. The local rink has all the equipment available for a kid to try out the sport. Back in that day we didnít have to purchase any equipment to try it out. Now I think they ask you to have a stick Ė big deal. Now these local skating rinks have partnered with someone to give skates away to kids signing up for the first time. They never even have to play again, but they have the skates. In these t-shirt leagues, there are no coaches, there are just rink employees on the rink encouraging, teaching, and trying to create a fun and enjoyable environment. I think this is a great concept and it seems to work fairly well around here.
Once these kids are involved, these local rinks provide the next level. There are 5 or 6 skating rinks in the Colorado area and they each have a Club team. If you want to go beyond the t-shirt league, you can join a Club team. They practice once a week, have coaches, and play in a local tournament against the other skating rinks about once a month. Some kids and parents have absolutely no interest in ever playing on a competitive team, and some may never even want to play on a Club team. Some may not be skilled enough to play on a competitive team, but the Club teams provide 3 different skill levels so all the kids can play at their skill level and have a fun and learning experience.
That is what we do here in the Colorado area. It seems to work for us Ė at least it worked for my kid who has now played at all levels and in all of these tournaments, just because a five-year-old received a simple flyer from school. So, what other ideas do people have? Remember, we shouldnít be criticizing ideas. You may do something that would work perfectly for someone else, but they just need to know about it.
Father of a 16-year-old who has made countless friends, had numerous memorable experiences, and has generally stayed out of trouble because of inline hockey and a simple flyer.