For decades, youth hockey associations have hosted equipment drives and swaps in order to provide new families with hockey equipment at low or no cost. The strategies are still highly effective and commonly used today, but associations in Minnesota also have a secret weapon when it comes to making hockey equipment more affordable for first time players: Gear Up Minnesota.
The Gear Up Minnesota equipment grant program, presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, is now in its ninth season of helping local programs outfit young hockey players throughout the state, reducing barriers to start hockey and helping grow the game.
The Gear Up Minnesota program began during the 2010-11 season and has become one of the most successful growth grant programs nationwide. Over the eight years since Gear Up Minnesota has been implemented, more than $640,000 worth of starter gear has been distributed to over 120 Minnesota Hockey community associations. Those contributions have played a key role in increasing the amount of Minnesota’s 8 & Under players, which last year surpassed 18,800 for the first time ever.
This season Gear Up Minnesota will continue to provide DICK’S Sporting Goods gift cards to community associations in Minnesota so they can purchase the equipment they need most. This can include skates, sticks, helmets or any other hockey gear they deem necessary to providing the right equipment and sizes for new players.
“Partnering with Minnesota Hockey to make the game of hockey more accessible to the kids here in Minnesota aligns perfectly with our goal to support local communities and keep kids playing the sports they love,” said Matt Teske, Community Marketing Manager, DICK’S Sporting Goods. “We’re excited to be part of the effort to make hockey more affordable for families across the state.”
Associations can apply for a Gear Up Minnesota equipment grant by submitting an application that states what growth initiatives they are employing, what equipment is most needed and what the equipment will be used for. The application process will be open through June 15. Associations that earn grants will be notified in July and will receive their gift cards in August. Gift cards can be used to purchase equipment online, or at any of the eight DICK’S Sporting Goods locations in Minnesota.