The New York Rangers have been working with Ice Hockey in Harlem since the program’s inception in 1987. From that time, the storied franchise has been lucky enough to provide opportunities for under-sourced and under-serviced youth in the Harlem community. The partnership between the two entities helps Ice Hockey in Harlem players gain access to experiences they normally wouldn’t get.
Hockey is one of the most, if not the most, expensive sport to play as a youth and many who’d love to be involved in the game simply don’t have the opportunity because of financial situations. Ice Hockey in Harlem makes that possible.
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Ice Hockey in Harlem is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the social and academic well being of children between the ages of 5 and 17 years old. They’re currently made up of six squads consisting of Mites, Squirts, two Pee-Wee teams, one Bantam and a U18 (under-18) team. They play in a league with teams from Riverside, Princeton, and New Jersey.
The Rangers provide annual financial support for the program which helps participants gain access to ice time and hockey equipment throughout the season. They also provide memorabilia for auctions that help Ice Hockey in Harlem operate and purchase much-needed resources for those involved.
Going Above and Beyond
Rangers’ coaches and players put on free hockey camps and clinics at Madison Square Garden and at their training center in Tarrytown for Ice Hockey in Harlem teams, while participants also get to watch the Rangers practice. In February 2019, Dave Quinn was honored for his contributions over the years to the program – contributions that date back to Quinn’s coaching days at Boston University along with those he’s made since becoming the Rangers’ head coach before the 2018-19 NHL season.
The Rangers find themselves battling for a playoff spot at the moment, but more importantly, Brendan Lemieux showed up at one of Ice Hockey in Harlems’ most notable events, their annual Winter Sports Celebration. During the event, Lemieux shook hands and signed autographs while giving some pointers to the young hockey players in attendance.
Former Ranger greats and 1994 Stanley Cup champions Mike Richter and Adam Graves were recently honored at Ice Hockey in Harlems’ 2018 Winter Celebration for their commitment and contributions to the program over the years. The two former teammates have worked with the program since their playing days and continue to do so.
Another great event Ice Hockey in Harlem is involved with is The Lawyers’ Cup, which will take place at Chelsea Piers Sky Rink on March 7, 2020. The Lawyers’ Cup is a hockey tournament sponsored and played by attorneys from seven American and Canadian law firms which helps to raise crucial funding for the program.
Some other annual events Ice Hockey in Harlem puts on are Benefit On The Green, which happens every year in August at the beautiful Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, NY, and the Frozen Apple outdoor hockey tournament. The Frozen Apple is put on by ex-hockey players who are involved in the insurance industry. The event takes place at Lasker Rink in Central Park, which is where the Ice Hockey in Harlem program holds its practices and home games. The tournament annually raises money for the program. Mike Frimet and friends started the tournament in 2014 to much success.
Ice Hockey in Harlem is also trying to grow the girl’s hockey community in Harlem while they’re looking to attain a space to start a street hockey program this summer. They’ll be partnering with schools around the area who currently have their own street hockey programs. In addition to that, they hold a career conversation night on Thursdays where speakers from different professions come and speak to the kids about future career possibilities.
The program has had some former players go on to further their playing careers as well, such as Travis Bobb, who was first introduced to hockey when he joined the program at age nine. Travis went on to play for prep school teams in New York and Maine after his experience with Ice Hockey in Harlem. Following that, he played in the ACHA (American College Hockey Association) for McKendree University in Illinois. Travis is now the Hockey and Equipment Coordinator at Ice Hockey in Harlem.
Executive Director of Ice Hockey in Harlem Tracy P. Leary says, “We provide access to the world of hockey for kids who wouldn’t have the opportunity, particularly in Harlem.” Ms. Leary also says she’s extremely pleased with the direction of the foundation and is excited to see what the future holds while she looks forward to a continued partnership with the Rangers.
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Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, Ca by way of Detroit, Mi. Scott’s life has been shaped by uniquely diverse experiences in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents.