COLORADO SPRINGS — Here in Colorado Springs, we are Olympic City USA and during the pandemic, our nation’s most elite teams and organizations had to work hard to get past this difficult time. The pandemic caused sports teams on every level across the country to be benched while the nation figured out how to get past COVID-19. USA Hockey was no exception.
This elite organization relies heavily on local communities and members throughout the entire country. Hockey is a team sport and a team effort across the boards. USA Hockey put out a lot of information with their partners, U.S. Ice Rink Association, which Hockey is partners with, along with U.S. Figure Skating. The information included guidelines, recommendations, and requirements to all of their youth programs and rink operators to allow them to bring people back into their facilities. This included youth and adult hockey players and allowed them to limit the number of people in facilities.
"We have volunteers at the grassroots level and communities throughout the country that we rely upon with the direction of our staff and our volunteer leadership, we put programs in place that allowed kids and families to get back to the rinks as much as possible depending on what the requirements were there in their local communities so we really focused on how we can make sure hockey and stay a part of people's lives,” said Pat Kelleher, Executive Director of USA HOCKEY.
“From the USA Hockey perspective, we were down about 20 percent in membership for this past season which is a significant part of our business. We are a grassroots membership association so we have had to look at all of our programs, where we can commit and spend our resources.”
USA Hockey did not travel or host any events during 2020 so the organization got creative on how to keep its members active. They did a lot to keep kids engaged through online challenges, online fitness programs and found ways to get kids to put a stick in their hand, even if they couldn’t participate in a rink in order to still feel connected to hockey during the pandemic.
Hockey is such a big part of our American culture and USA Hockey has had a lot of success and rich history. But you can see how the organization has many moving parts down to its youth levels. Caroline Peters will have more details on USA’s Hockey history and plans for the future in the next couple of weeks.