As a central part of their Hockey Week Across America celebration, the New Jersey Devils unveiled their new Hockey Academy virtual training website this week.
The site’s many resources will include these sections: Skill Zone, Motivational Messages, Hockey-Focused Health and Wellness Tips, Injury Prevention and Preventative Exercise Videos, Hockey 101 and Educational Activities, and Ball Hockey Drills. The site may be found at newjerseydevils.com/hockeyacademy.
“In short, our Hockey Academy is going to help house all of our youth hockey initiatives, whether it’s on the ice, off the ice, diversity and inclusion efforts, and content features,” said Kevin Fox, senior manager, youth hockey and growth initiatives for the Devils. “Families can come in here and access so many virtual training resources for players of all ages and skill levels.”
As Fox pointed out, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made expansion of the Devils’ online presence even more important.
“I think COVID had a huge impact on the progression of this because we were really forced to identify ways to still engage with the youth hockey community and even our local rinks. We haven’t really been able to be as active as we generally are,” Fox said. “This virtual engagement … even when COVID is hopefully over, this still will be such a huge resource for families to come in at their leisure and see new, professional training opportunities.”
Fox consulted with Bryce Salvador, former Devils captain and current alumni ambassador, at the outset. Salvador already had extensive experience posting training videos on the web.
“We just started talking that this could be something bigger than just a week camp,” Fox recalled. “We were discussing this larger platform that can live forever and benefit all levels of our game.
“If we post content on social media, it’s great but disappears over time. The ability for us to house all this content and [educational material] on this site is really what the vision was.”
Fox said the hope is to have content on the site evolve over time.
“I’m really excited to work with USA Hockey,” Fox said. “The opportunities are endless. USA Hockey and our Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association are obviously such close partners of ours in the development of this.”
Families will be able to establish free accounts on the website, log in, and access a great deal of content without endlessly surfing the web. Salvador said that makes the Devils’ new website unique.
“No one has, in my opinion, really concisely [compiled] all their content in a platform that lives on, that you can add multiple layers to,” Salvador said. “You’re bringing [families] into the whole ecosystem.”
Fox noted that as part of the registration process, youngsters will create player cards.
“Participants can create a free account, include their name, their position, their number, their age, what team they play for,” Fox said. “They can upload their club logo, their favorite team, Devils player, and essentially earn points and prizes for completing all these different video activities or challenges.”
During Hockey Week Across America, a signed Jack Hughes jersey will go to one lucky registrant.
“For anybody that signs up, they’ll be entered to win,” Fox said. “We’ll do monthly draws throughout the year, as well.”
Salvador said he’s excited to see such initiatives that connect NHL teams with hockey families.
“I know we say every team does [that], but … they’re finding ways to funnel them and help them find the content easier,” Salvador said. “I think you’re starting to see teams realize that they need to become the authorities in their communities.”
In addition to the new virtual hub, the Devils Hockey Academy will offer on-ice programming and an equipment relief program for New Jersey families affected by COVID.
“Hockey Week Across America is one of our favorite weeks of the year,” Fox said. “It’s a great way to support the local New Jersey youth hockey community, both existing and new members. We do have content lined up throughout the week tied to the USA Hockey daily themes, which we will release on our social media channels.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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