January/February 2021

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Page 37 of 47

PHOTOS: USA HOCKEY, ARCHIVES REAL PROGRAMS Successful programs to consider adopting REAL PROGRAMS Grow the Game D URING THESE CHAL- LENGING TIMES, rink operators have been flex- ing their creative muscles to change with the constant fluid situation of the pandemic. Keeping kids skating and playing hockey is essential to the long-term health of a rink. Data shows that when a rink operator takes their foot off the gas and encounter a drop with their entry-level programming, that drop will continue to haunt their business for years. With that said, to keep our rinks full and leverage the opportunity to fill the void in your com- munity's youth, focus on mining the next crop of hockey families is essential. While following local and state health guidelines, an overlooked sacrifice that families have been making is sampling new sports and activities for their young children. An average child's only social interaction these days comes through online classrooms and physical literacy guided by a YouTube video. Sport is a necessary component to a child's emo- tional, mental and physical health. As the constraints from the virus start to subside, the potential to capture a wave of families that are open to all kinds of new activities will be historic. USA Hockey has been working with rinks, local associations and families to develop a roadmap to help us all be prepared for the opportunities that 2021 will bring. To get started, we want to hear from you. USA Hockey developed the Program Services department to provide tools and resources to assist local organizations grow participation and 38 / JANUARY.FEBRUARY.2021 USICERINKS.COM by KEVIN ERLENBACH Seizing the Opportunity to Grow USA Hockey continues its efforts to grow and retain all new members introduced to ice sports

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