Ice Hockey and the Benefits it instills in Local Youth
Wednesday September 8, 2021 4:44 PM
Ice hockey has been a part of Owensboro since 1971. The Owensboro Youth Hockey Association continues to grow, celebrating a standout season in 2020-21 with two teams representing Kentucky at National events. The Owensboro Rampage high school team won back-to-back Kentucky High School Hockey League state titles in 2020 and 2021; the program previously won in 2012 and 2016. Unable to compete at the national level in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the team represented Kentucky in Boise, Idaho in April. In addition, the 14u Owensboro Puck Hogs won the Mid-America AA District tournament and represented Kentucky at the national championships in McKinney, Texas.
The Owensboro Youth Hockey Association has called the Edge Ice Center their home ice since 2009 when the Edge originally opened. Prior to the Edge opening, Owensboro Youth Hockey operated out of the Owensboro Ice Arena, which was only open 6 months out of the year due to the joint heating and cooling system shared with the Owensboro Sportscenter. Having the Edge Ice Center 12 months a year meant hockey could become a year round sport, and since the ice center is the only municipally owned and operated arena in the state, has meant the association also has the backing of its community. The new facility also opened the doors to hosting travel hockey games and tournaments at the Edge. The 2020-21 season resulted in a direct economic impact of $193,904. Jason Link, Coach for the Rampage team said, “With the Edge Ice Center being open year round it gives the players so much more time to build and develop their skill by attending out of season clinics, going to stick and puck and other outlets the kids can sign up for”. This also allows Rampage players to interact with the younger players on the ice during the Edge Ice Center’s Summer Skate Camp program.
The Owensboro Rampage High School team is made-up mostly of local high school students such as Apollo, Owensboro, Owensboro Catholic, Daviess County, South Warren, and Bowling Green. It is remarkable the amount of talent found on the Owensboro Rampage team, and the level the team can compete at considering most teams played are from larger metro areas like Lexington, Evansville, and Louisville. Their achievements attest to the strength and skill knowledge their coaches and program possess. Wyatt Fireline is getting ready to start his 3rd season with the Owensboro Rampage team. Wyatt was on the team for both state titles that took place in 2020 and 2021. Wyatt said, “I was 9 years old when I started playing hockey and throughout those years I have gained a ton of new friends and learned life skills that will help me in my future”. When asked what his favorite memory was from those 2 years on the Rampage team, Wyatt stated, “My most proud moment was when I won the Brandon Scott Mullins Leadership Award”. A scholarship award given out annually by the Owensboro Ice Foundation and the Mullins family in memory of SPC Mullins, a former Owensboro Youth Hockey member and awarded to a player, or players, based on their outstanding leadership and sportsmanship.
Twelve volunteer board members lead the Owensboro Youth Hockey association. Jason Koger, new President of the association stated, “The board is motivated to provide this unique sport to our community that is normally more familiar to people who live up north. They thrive on seeing the program grow and the kiddos improve as they mature in the program. Koger said, “I am amazed at the coaches, because they can take a child using a training aid at their first practice, and within 2 weeks the improvement in balance, control and speed is unreal”. Jason Koger has a son, Axell Koger who is starting his second season in the sport and is trying out for a travel team for his age division this year. Koger stated “Axell has gained so much confidence and strength within this program. He gets out of the house and it keeps him active.”
Jason Link stated, “Building a successful high school team starts with putting effort into the Youth Recreational Hockey Program”. Players can start playing in the Owensboro Youth Hockey recreational league as young as 4 years old. The first year a player participates the hockey program supplies their gear. There are 4 different age divisions within the recreation hockey program, 6U, 8U, 10U, and 16U. Jason Link stated, “Hockey can be an inexpensive sport if players play in just the reactional league. The League doesn’t travel and gear is supplied the first year you play.” He also stated, “The recreational league is a COED league that plays for 6 months out of the year. Most sports only play six to eight weeks in a recreation league, but with hockey and the season being so long the player has more time to develop and perfect their skill. A travel team for each age group is offered, so if your child does like the sport and wants to compete at a higher, more competitive level they can try out for one of those teams”.
Hockey is a sport that teaches skills needed to successful on the ice, but goes a lot further than that. Teaching players time management and team building skills, plus it promotes confidence, pride, focus, and responsibility. This sport teaches the children not just physical toughness, but also mental toughness. Jason Link stated, “Hockey is a physical sport”, he tells his players, “always remember to play the sport and not to let the sport play you”. Hockey prepares a child and sets them up for success in their future endeavors whether it be in hockey or a profession.
Hockey is a sport that improves hand eye coordination, strength and condition, footwork and teaches players to use their peripheral vision. Link says “by playing hockey the players are not just getting experience in this sport, but they are also improving skills needed to be successful in other sports as well.
The Hockey Association cares about helping all of its players succeed and grow. New players enter the league every season with different levels of skills. Link States, “Rampage roster is made up of 20 spots, 18 players and 2 goalies. ALL ARE NEEDED”. Link also said that, “when coaching his goal is to close the gap between the most experienced player and the least. Throughout the season you could have players get injured or suspended from play so all players are important and needed to succeed”.
You can register for the recreational hockey league by visiting the Owensboro Youth Hockey Associations website www.owensborohockey.com and click on registration at the top of the page. By signing your child up for ice hockey whether it be a boy or girl you have signed them up for a sport they can grow in, but also a sport that builds strong character on and off the ice. To find out more information about the sport you are welcome to visit the website and click on connect. There you will find a list of the current board members and their email addresses. Jason Koger said, “I accepted this position because I want to see more kids playing and I believes this sport is something positive in our community, and a great way for kids to be physically active”. He also said if they play only one year the child has learned to ice skate and that is a recreational skill they can use well into their older years.
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