When Anaheim Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry each signed 8-year contract extensions last season, it insured that the two would remain a force for the Ducks not only on the ice, but off the ice as well.
One example of that off ice commitment was highlighted at Honda Center this week as both players were on hand, along with Ducks owner Henry Samueli, to launch the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play program powered by Ryan Getzlaf & Corey Perry.
The Learn to Play program, in its third year, is an introductory hockey program offered by THE RINKS that allows kids to try ice and inline hockey for free. What’s new this season is that Getzlaf and Perry have signed on to be involved in the grass roots program in a unique way.
First off, the two will attend some of the Learn to Play instructional sessions, as their schedule allows, getting the NHLers out there with the kids to help teach skating basics.
Additionally, for those kids who complete the Learn to Play program and then sign up for a full-season hockey program through THE RINKS, Getzlaf and Perry will purchase Bauer equipment for those players—equipment that they can keep–including skates, shoulder and elbow pads, shin guards, a helmet, hockey pants, gloves and a jersey.
This is awesome on many levels.
For starters, kids who have never tried hockey before will get the chance to be introduced to this great sport by two of the top players in the NHL.
And if they enjoy it and decide to continue playing, they’ll get their first set of gear paid for by the pros.
As youth sports go, hockey can seem kind of daunting. And expensive. Having a free introductory program available for kids to try it out and see if they even like it makes it much more approachable. And then if they do like it, having the initial equipment costs covered is a great way to help make the sport accessible for more families.
To kick off this program, Getzlaf and Perry took to the Honda Center ice with 60 very lucky 5th graders from Maranatha Christian Academy in Santa Ana, one of the schools enrolled in the Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Program (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation & Education).
Along with instructors from THE RINKS Learn to Play program, Getzlaf and Perry worked with the kids on skating drills, puck and stick handling and even joined in some scrimmage games.
“It’s great to be out here with the kids, helping them learn to skate and putting smiles on their faces,” said Getzlaf. “It’s important to keep it fun for them.”
And these 5th graders were indeed smiling. Some of the kids knew how to skate, and others were rookies. But no matter their experience level, they were happy to be out on the ice with the Ducks.
“It’s an absolute privilege to be here today,” said Maranatha Christian Academy Principal, Greg Steinhaus. “We’ve had a great relationship with the Ducks for many years through S.C.O.R.E. and we’re happy to help them introduce this program.”
And 10-year-old Erin, one of the Maranatha Christian Academy 5th graders, was enjoying the morning skate as well.
“I’m having fun,” she said. “I like skating and playing hockey with my friends.”
As the core and the future of Ducks hockey, it’s great to see Getzlaf and Perry make a long-term commitment not only to the organization, but to our community as well.
“Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are two of the preeminent players in the NHL and to have their involvement in this brings prominence and legitimacy to the program,” said Anaheim Ducks Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Aaron Teats.
“They are the future of our organization and their commitment shows they truly care about the growth of hockey in Southern California,” said Teats.
My own daughter got her start in hockey through a Learn to Play program. It’s a no-cost, low-commitment way for kids to give the sport a try. If your child has even the slightest interest in ice or inline hockey and you’d like to explore it further, this type of program is definitely the way to go.
And who would pass up on the chance to skate alongside a couple of Anaheim Ducks?
I know my kids wouldn’t.
The four-week Learn to Play program will be offered through several of THE RINKS locations, which include both ice and inline hockey. Sessions are planned over the next few months, with some sessions already sold out due to high demand. For more information and to register, visit anaheimducks.com/learntoplay
**Top photo courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks