When Hockey Weekend Across America first started, I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect. I knew I didn’t, but that was because I was a dumb intern that had never been part of a national initiative before. The only thing we did know was that hockey could use an official celebration in this country and USA Hockey was happy to lead the charge. Now in its fourth year of existence, Hockey Weekend Across America has become a rallying point for hockey fans across this country, so much so that NBC and the NHL have gotten fully on board.
The only way a weekend like this works, though, is through involvement from the fans. There are so many events to take part in, so many games to go to and so much you can do to participate thanks to the wonders of the Internet, that its impossible not to be involved in some way. I’ve got some links to help you get through the weekend without sitting on the sidelines.
To get the best info regarding Hockey Weekend Across America, you’ve got to go directly to the source. Here’s some info from USAHockey.com on how you can participate in HWAA festivities. Also, if you’re going to be tweeting about Hockey Weekend, use the #HWAA hash tag and be part of the conversation with other hockey fans from around the United States.
NBC’s Hockey Day in America coverage should further the awareness of both Hockey Weekend Across America and hockey in general. The hockey coverage planned across the NBC Sports platforms is unprecedented. So, on Sunday, just go ahead and sit in front of your TV and enjoy the NINE HOURS of hockey on NBC and VERSUS. The honey-do list can wait one more week. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday than watching nine hours of hockey? The correct answer is NO.
In addition to the multiple hockey games you’ll be able to watch, you’re going to get a look at several outstanding hockey stories from around the United States. According to David Kalan’s NHL.com article, we can expect some features on the Fort Dupont minority hockey program in Washington, D.C., the Boston Blades professional women’s hockey team, celebrity hockey in L.A., and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships.
NHL.com has always been great at covering the events of Hockey Weekend Across America. Expect no different this year, as they’ve already started churning out the USA Hockey-related features. Click that link to see all of the latest HWAA-related stories put out by NHL.com’s outstanding editorial staff.
One of my absolute favorite things about Hockey Weekend Across America is how it energizes the grass-roots hockey base. Saturday is “Bring a Friend to the Rink Day” and around 200 rinks across the country will open their doors for a free “Try Hockey Day” to any kids that want to give hockey a go. Check out this map to see what rinks are involved. I don’t believe this many rinks have been involved in years past, so the level of participation is astounding. Heck, the inline rink in Hawaii is even on board.
In addition to the outstanding coverage you will find across the internet, I will humbly offer a few of my own Hockey Weekend Across America-related pieces.
With Friday being “Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey Day”, I’ll have a piece Thursday afternoon with my ode to the hockey jersey, the greatest piece of fabric in sports.
Sunday is “Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes Day” and I am starting my celebration a bit early. On Friday, I’ll reveal my personal hockey hero and shed some light on other folks that deserve some credit, as well.
Now you might be asking yourself, “What can I do?” Well, if you’re involved in hockey either as a coach or a player or a fan, it’s really simple. The only way the game will grow is if we continue to spread the hockey gospel. Sometimes it helps to think back to how you were introduced to the game.
If you are a coach or a player, maybe take a few neighborhood kids or some friends to the rink for an open skate or a Try Hockey Day. If the street is clear of snow and ice, organize a street hockey game. If it’s cold enough, head over to the local pond or outdoor rink and try to get some friends involved, even if its a little boot hockey or broomball. If you’ve got kids of your own, or nieces or nephews, maybe they’d enjoy a game of knee hockey in the basement or living room (sorry, moms). Guys, bring your girlfriends or wives to the rink for a nice skate. Girls, bring your husbands or boyfriends to the rink for a few trips around the ice. Get a group together to head out to the local hockey game, whether its high school, junior, college, minor leagues or the NHL. You can even just have a few people over to enjoy some of the Hockey Day in America games.
Sometimes it just takes one day, or one activity to turn a friend or relative on to hockey. It may not work. They may never become fans, but that’s OK, because for one day you gave them the chance to discover the game. You did your part.
Initiatives like Hockey Weekend Across America help us remember what makes the game great. It gives us all a chance to celebrate why we love hockey so much. We’re an interesting group, hockey fans. We seem to know something everyone else doesn’t. Maybe its time we clue the others in.
As the great Bob Johnson said on more than one occasion, “It’s a great day for hockey.”