Minnesota Hockey announced today the Gear Up Minnesota! equipment grant program will be providing over 430 sets of starter hockey equipment to 46 youth hockey associations in Minnesota. Gear Up Minnesota!, in cooperation with Total Hockey and the Minnesota Wild Foundation, has supplied local associations with more than $450,000 worth of equipment in the past five years.
The Gear Up Minnesota! program was started in 2010 in an effort to increase the number kids playing hockey by attracting more new players and making the game more accessible. Since that time, 111 unique associations have combined to receive over 2,200 new sets of hockey equipment for players ages 4-9.
From creating displays at schools to providing gear at Try Hockey For Free events, local volunteers have found a number of exciting ways to use sets of equipment from Gear Up Minnesota! to fuel growth in their community. Together, youth hockey associations have provided an estimated 10,000 kids the opportunity to try hockey through the use of Gear Up Minnesota! equipment.
“We are honored to work with such dedicated partners who care about growing the game,” said Katy Benoit, USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey Liaison for Total Hockey. “Reaching over 10,000 kids is incredible and we look forward to delivering more equipment to those deserving associations, assuring viable hockey communities throughout the state!”
This year is also the second season Minnesota Hockey and Total Hockey will be distributing 10 sets of starter goalie gear in addition to sets of skater equipment. Many youth hockey associations encourage kids to play goalie by having teams share equipment. The sets of goalie equipment available through Gear Up Minnesota! enable more young players to try playing goalie and ensures more goaltenders at the youngest levels have safe and properly fitting equipment.
“This is such an important program and we have had a large number of associations take advantage of these sets in fun and creative ways to get more kids playing hockey,” said Minnesota Hockey Executive Director, Glen Andresen. “We are very grateful to have such generous partners and dedicated volunteers that put so much thought and energy into increasing the number of young Minnesotans that play and love hockey. We continue to see an increase in the numbers of boys and girls at the 8 and Under level, and Gear Up Minnesota! is a big reason for that.”
Thank you to the Minnesota Wild Foundation, Total Hockey, Shock Doctor, Subway and our other partners for your involvement with Gear Up Minnesota!. Without your support, Gear Up Minnesota! and the number of new hockey players it has produced wouldn’t be possible.