The cost of participation is often listed as the main challenge in getting kids to start playing hockey. One of those costs is equipment. In order to help associations reduce the cost of entry for players, Minnesota Hockey has provided an equipment grant program every year since 2000 (became Gear Up Minnesota! in 2010).
Gear Up Minnesota! is a grant program for starter hockey equipment. In collaboration with Total Hockey and the Minnesota Wild Foundation, Gear Up Minnesota! has distributed 1,400 sets of equipment worth a total of over $270,000 over the past three years. Despite the program’s success, many associations still don’t fully understand what it is. Here are ten common myths and misconceptions surrounding Gear Up Minnesota!.
Myth: I need to be a professional grant writer to win a grant.
There have been 60 different associations selected to receive grants since 2010. The applications have been submitted by presidents, board members, equipment managers, registrars and recruiting coordinators. In other words, they are volunteers just like you, and most don’t have any formal experience writing grant applications.
Myth: Applying for the grant will be too time consuming. It just isn’t worth my time.
Gear Up Minnesota! doesn’t require a 60 page grant application. In fact, many grants selected in the past have been around 400-600 words. Think of it as a proposal. Use clear and concise language to convince us why your association should receive a grant and what you will do with it. Keep in mind, past grant winners have been awarded up to $6,000 worth of equipment, and the only cost was the time put into the application.
Myth: The paperwork required for the grant will be a major hassle.
Applications are available online, eliminating the cost and hassle of paperwork. Visit www.minnesotahockey.org and look for the Gear Up Minnesota! logo on our home page.
Myth: Grants are distributed in the form of financial assistance.
Grants will be delivered in the form of equipment, not a check. Associations in the Twin Cities area will be sent equipment certificates that can be redeemed at a nearby Total Hockey store. Associations outside the metro area will be mailed sets of learn to play equipment.
Myth: The purpose of the grant is to help current players save money.
Although the grant does help associations and players save money, the purpose of Gear Up Minnesota! is to facilitate growth initiatives throughout Minnesota. The intent is to help associations attract new players by making hockey more accessible by eliminating the initial cost of equipment.
Myth: We will have access to the equipment before the end of this season.
Gear Up Minnesota! applications are reviewed during the spring of each year (2014). The equipment (or certificates) will be delivered to the selected associations before the start of the following season (2014-15).
Myth: When a player uses equipment from Gear Up Minnesota!, it becomes his or her equipment.
When the grants are sent out, the equipment becomes property of the association. Typically, players are allowed to use the equipment throughout the season. Then, it is returned to the association following the season so it can be reused for many years to come by other families looking to try hockey for the first time.
Myth: Associations should handle the distribution of the equipment.
It is highly recommended that associations receiving the certificates pass them out to the players (or families) who will be using the equipment for them to redeem at Total Hockey rather than collecting the gear as an association and distributing it. This fulfills three important objectives: a) reduces the workload of the volunteers b) allows Total Hockey staff to supply equipment that fits the specific individual who will be wearing it rather than simply providing an assortment of sizes c) first year players and parents are provided with equipment education and tips while they are outfitted with free gear. Associations can even schedule an equipment fitting day with their local Total Hockey store where all of their players using the equipment can be fitted at the same time.
Unfortunately, outfitting players in store isn't always an option for out-state associations. Total Hockey will do its best to provide a variety of sizes, and the association will be in charge of distributing them appropriately.
Myth: All sizes of equipment are available.
Gear Up Minnesota! equipment grants are starter equipment sets, designed for players age 4-9. Players that redeem certificates at a Total Hockey location will have an array of sizes to chose from to ensure proper fitting of equipment, but these sets aren’t intended for players over age 9.
Myth: The equipment isn’t high enough quality to fully protect our kids.
In the past, equipment programs occasionally provided equipment of subpar quality. That is not the case with Gear Up Minnesota!. All of the equipment comes from brand name manufacturers you trust like Reebok & CCM, ensuring Gear Up Minnesota! provides the latest in high quality starter equipment to keep your kids safe.