The Minnesota Wild in cooperation with Minnesota Hockey, CCM and Total Hockey have launched a major youth hockey initiative called the Little Wild Learn to Play Program. Next September, the low cost, low commitment program will introduce hockey to nearly 500 new kids in Minnesota.
The Little Wild program will provide eight locations in Minnesota where youth will have a unique opportunity to try the game of hockey for only $100. For that price, CCM and Total Hockey will outfit the kids head to toe with Little Wild branded equipment including skates, hockey bags, jerseys, helmets, gloves, pants, pads, socks and sticks. Then, they will have four, one hour ice sessions, in which, certified USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey coaches will offer professional instruction on the basic skills of hockey while emphasizing the importance of fun.
“We’ve tried hard from Day One to be really woven into the fabric of hockey in Minnesota,” said Matt Majka, Chief Operating Officer for the Minnesota Wild. “Programs like this just keep all of that alive, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
This initiative is the first of its kind in Minnesota and marks a unified effort to continue to increase participation at the youngest levels of hockey.
“Minnesota is the State of Hockey and we have more kids playing than anywhere else in the country, but there can always be more,” Minnesota Hockey’s Executive Director, Glen Andresen said. “Up to 500 kids will get the opportunity to play and this will knock down a lot of barriers for them. I hope we can involve more communities and more kids as the years go by and keep growing the game.”
Perhaps even more exciting, is that similar programs have been shown to be effective in increasing the interest in hockey among nontraditional families that wouldn’t have otherwise played hockey.
“We’ve been involved with programs like this in other NHL markets and seen what it can do to community growth,” said Reebok-CCM Hockey trade marketing executive Bob Fallen. “You don’t want to take for granted that just because we’re Minnesota, kids are going to play hockey. We think this is something that can really fuel the growth of registration for the 8 & Under level.”
“I’m excited to be a part of the Little Wild program,” said Minnesota Wild Forward Charlie Coyle, who will be a guest instructor at select events. “I have great childhood memories from playing the game and it’s obviously had a really positive influence on my life. I want to do whatever I can to share this great sport with others, especially kids, and continue growing the game.”
Registration for the Little Wild Learn to Play opens on Tuesday, May 27 at 10 am, and participants will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. The program is open only to those with no previous experience in organized hockey programs. Kids from all communities in Minnesota are encouraged to sign up.
“For example, Eagan will host one of the events, but that is open to any kid from Burnsville, Apple Valley, Farmington,” said Andresen.
Following registration, participants will be contacted with further instructions. They will be invited to participate in an equipment fitting at a local Total Hockey store to ensure the highest standards of safety. The equipment will then be picked up prior to their first program session. In addition, the Little Wild branded CCM equipment will be available to kids not enrolled in Little Wild at Total Hockey locations for $200.
Youth hockey associations will also play a key role in the overall impact of the Little Wild Learn to Play program as representatives of associations surrounding each location will be involved in encouraging Little Wild participants to continue playing hockey.
For more information and to register, visit Wild.com/LittleWild.