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Daily Dish: Want to Fill that Arena? Canadian Junior Hockey News

Published: Wednesday, 19 Sep 2018  
By: Stephen Heisler,

Every junior hockey team on the continent would like to create a larger demand for their product. Below is a concept that not only stuffs your empty seats, but also gives the players a huge sense of responsibility. As a parent, I know the purchasing power of my children. I also know how much parents would appreciate a young hockey player taking the time to give back to our community, and children, as a school volunteer.

A prospects in schools program is an excellent way for clubs to generate community interest in their program. There are a lot of potential supporters out there that are not typically a hockey fan. Let's face it, finding quality entertainment for the family is not an easy task. Taking the crew to a hockey game, to see a player that the child knows from school, could be a nice diversion that does not take a huge bite out of the wallet. 

The first person needed is a volunteer program coordinator. A huge advantage would be to find a teacher to manage the program. This person could be the single most important volunteer on your staff, especially if this program is properly implemented.

Identify the number of players on the team's roster that could be available on Mondays. For this example, we are going to say fifteen. Next, identify the fifteen public elementary schools, with standard enrollment numbers, that are closest to the team's home venue.

Generally, Mondays are great for this program because it will give parents the week to plan for the team's weekend game.
As a weekly school volunteer, your player will float from classroom to classroom or help with the physical education programs. The point is to get the maximum exposure and interaction out of each school visit. The player should be at his school when the buses roll in until the last child goes home. Parents will take notice of the young man, especially if he is working with their children all year. Even more importantly, if the children are talking about the positive interaction they are having with your player, the return on that investment of the player's time is going to be substantial.

Players should always be dressed in team apparel, be clean cut and shaven, and always remember that they not only represent the team, but also the game itself. The impressions made here can have a lifelong impact on these kids. Make the most of it.

Done right, and done consistently, the result of the program could be tremendous. Imagine if just one in ten children manage to drag mom and dad to the games. Typical enrollment at elementary schools is over 250, so we will use that number, meaning 375 more families a game from just fifteen schools. Youth hockey programs, hockey experience camps, and even group field trips are all by-products of this program.

Pick one game each season that can be played on a school day. Work with the program coordinator to help identify a date that could work within the school calendar. The coordinator will also need the help of the school districts in order to facilitate and manage the event.  A common theme is drug awareness and the need to choose a healthy lifestyle. The players, coaching staff, and community leaders are all to participate in pre and post-game activities.  This type of event happens all over the country and can easily translate into a huge number of new supporters for the team.

Schools are always in need of volunteers while teams often have a seemingly unlimited supply of empty seats to fill, this programs takes care of both issues while helping to cultivate the character of each of these young men.

PHOT0-- IceRays pack em in for their Kick the Butt game.

Author: Stephen Heisler from
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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