While the global pandemic has brought unprecedented changes to hockey, it has also provided new opportunities for the adult hockey community to connect and problem-solve.
In hopes to keep members of each association engaged during this downtime, USA Hockey’s adult hockey department launched the Adult Virtual Town Hall series with panelists from across the country.
“This is obviously a circumstance I don’t think many of us planned for,” shared Justin Rogers, director of hockey operations at AZ Ice Arcadia. “The best part of the town hall series has been listening to tons of interesting and unique ideas for how best to keep players and staff safe. It has helped each rink in their specific region plan accordingly and think of different ideas they might not have thought of on their own.
“It’s a great reminder that we’re not in this alone. USA Hockey will always offer us support and guidance to ensure we can all continue playing hockey.”
To date, six Adult Virtual Town Halls have been added to the USA Hockey website with more on the way. The sessions have proven to be both enjoyable and insightful as rinks continue to reopen and competitive play resumes.
Many facilities, like Great Park Ice in Irvine, California, have found ways to take small, safe steps toward that goal, and share their experiences with town hall attendees.
“The shutdown forced us to really think outside the box and get creative in keeping customers engaged,” said David Walker, hockey manager of Great Park Ice. “With no real idea of when things would improve, we started weekly drop-in camps focused on skills to give our players a chance to get back on the ice with a coach and run through skill development drills that adult leagues typically don’t provide.”
Participants of the virtual town halls are comprised of league directors and owners of both public and private facilities ranging in size from single-sheet to multi-sheet complexes. Each come ready to share their experience and lend insight into what’s going on in their particular part of the country.
As rink operators, league administrators and association presidents move forward in these extraordinary times, USA Hockey has answered the call and will continue to support rinks so players can get back on the ice safely this season.
“It’s been inspiring to connect with all of our adult hockey leaders during these challenging times and learn how we can better serve our membership that loves the game just as much as we do,” said Ashley Bevan, senior director of adult hockey for USA Hockey. “The pandemic has really thrown everyone a curveball. I’m an optimist at heart, and truly believe that USA Hockey, its membership, and the game of hockey itself will ultimately be stronger as we get through these challenging times.
“Our collective goal of safely returning to play is the key driver to bring all levels of the game together as one team. I’ve always known how well the hockey community works together, but I’ve now experienced it in a new way.”