The more research I do, the clearer it becomes that the only thing keeping the DMV from becoming a true center of hockey development and participation is ice time. On that front, several existing rinks are in the process of adding sheets or getting permits.
Here’s the current state of the Haymarket renovation and expansion. Woo!
Leesburg’s new rink, set to break ground shortly, seeks to be a world-class training facility run by a former Olympian and his wife. Although the press focuses on figure skating, where there is ice, there will be hockey. 🙂
There’s a mega “sports and wellness” complex slated for Springfield that will have two NHL rinks. Mt. Vernon is set to expand, and while Ft. Dupont is waiting on the financial side of things, but there’s a second sheet in the works, at some point.
The rest of the ingredients for a successful hockey culture are just simmering away, waiting for the ice to become available.
Coaches. There are already excellent coaches here, and this area is among the most desirable to live and work in: we can draw talent, should we want to- not to mention local universities like Georgetown, George Mason, and James Madison grooming young players who will want to coach once they graduate.
Assistance paying for gear. There are programs all over the area that offer players ages 4-8 completely free gear. The NHL and our beloved Capitals participate in one such program, and many teams and organizations make sure that kids who can’t pay for equipment (especially tough during the years of rapid growth!) have what they need. Leveling The Playing Field is another org that makes my heart sing. They realize that sports is about so much more than playing a game. Anecdotally, I can attest to the generosity of hockey people in general. I’ve given gear, and I’ve been given gear, from people at all levels of the game- not to mention the millions of dollars worth of equipment personally donated every year by NHL players. Warms the cockles of my cold heart, I’ll tell you.
A local NHL team. Yeah, we love these guys.
Desire. Every sheet is full until roughly midnight, with many rinks open past 1:30 for us crotchety old beer leagues. Hockey directors have to limit roster sizes and establish months (and sometimes years!) long waiting lists, for players of all ages.
We even have a business magnate with significant interest in hockey and an eye towards legacy- but I worry that he sees things in terms of acquisitions and media mergers instead of as an evangelist for the sport.
I guess the point here is to ask: what can we do, at this grassroots level, to promote hockey in the DC area, lean on the decision makers to grow this sport, and take care of each other as a community while we’re at it?