If you were asked to name team sports played by kids in the Rio Grande Valley you’d probably name soccer, baseball, football, basketball and ice hockey. Ice hockey? Yes, ice hockey!
Thanks to the Rio Grande Valley Youth Hockey Association, boys and girls ages six and up are being given the opportunity to play the sport normally played in much colder climes.
So, why would any parent choose to have her child participate in a sport played on a solid sheet of ice when we live in the semi-tropical Rio Grande Valley? Brian Disque, chairman of the board of the RGV Youth Hockey Association and one if its coaches, explained the sport of hockey offers kids several advantages the more traditional team sports don’t.
“It takes four to six weeks of being on the ice for the kids to get a sense of balance on the skates,” explained Disque. “That to me is the greatest athletic development for these kids at a young age of any sport. They actually develop a skill that most kids don’t develop in sports which is the concept of gliding. So, they start to develop agility and coordination based on their movement on the ice and controlling a puck with the stick. So, there’s a lot of hand-eye coordination, balance and athleticism in general that regardless of what sport they go into later on will help them to excel.”
The RGV Youth Hockey Association was formed in 2011 when a group of families that wanted to keep hockey in the Valley alive after the original RGV Killer Bees hockey team left. It is an all-volunteer group made up mostly of parents that became involved out of a desire to support their kids that wanted to play hockey.
Disque explained there are three different age divisions for the youth to participate in ice hockey.
“The youngest age group is generally 6-years-old to 8-years-old,” Disque said. “That’s the Mites Division. The next older division is the Squirts Division, which are 9 and 10-year-olds. And then the next division we have are called the Peewees and they are 11 and 12-year-olds. We currently have a total of approximately 30 kids enrolled in our program.”
The RGV Youth Hockey Association rents ice time Tuesday evenings during its six-month-long season, late September to late March, at the Frio Grande Valley Ice Center. The center is located at Business 83 and 26th Street in McAllen. They also take advantage of free ice time provided to them by the Killer Bees hockey team prior to their home games at State Farm Arena.
The cost of renting the ice, which is the major expense incurred, is divided up equally among the kids’ parents. For the current season that expense came out to $595 per child. That averages out to approximately $22 per practice. As for the equipment, such as jerseys, helmets and pads, needed to participate in the league, everything except for the skates can be borrowed from the association at no cost to the parents.
Even though there are only two months left in the current season it’s not too late for parents to sign up their kids to play this year. For more information about the RGV Youth Hockey Association call Brian Disque at 956-329-0114 or send an e-mail to [email protected]