Go to almost any suburban rink on an early winter morning and you’ll see equipment bags and hockey sticks being unloaded from SUVs and minivans, as dedicated parents bring their kids to predawn practice.
But for nearly 30 years, Harlem hockey parents have been taking the subway or bus to bring their kids to an after school program at Lasker Rink that teaches young people how to skate and play ice hockey.
Ice Hockey In Harlem is a non-profit that has been a part of the community since 1987 and in recent years has expanded its programs beyond the ice. There’s now a college readiness program, multiple book clubs and a guest speaker series, as well as a hockey knowledge series where kids can learn the history and science of the sport.
Playing competitive ice hockey is expensive. The cost of equipment, coaching, travel, and ice time can reach into the thousands per year. Ice Hockey In Harlem aims to remove those financial barriers so young people who can’t afford the sport can have an opportunity to play. With a small staff of three and over 70 volunteers and interns, the program trains 250 kids. They can begin as young as 5 in the “Learn to Skate” program and move up to the travel teams for older kids.
In this story, you’ll meet some of the people who make this program happen and hear from one teen who has been with Ice Hockey In Harlem for almost 10 years. He’s also just finished a film on African American hockey players.