NHL investing to grow hockey: Ford Ice Center to benefit

predsThe Nashville Predators, in cooperation with the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association, will invest over $4 million into the development of youth hockey in Middle Tennessee over the next three years as part of the League’s Industry Growth Fund (IGF).

In total, $4,005,000 has been awarded and designated into six programs for three separate areas: ball and street hockey ($135,000/year), rink development ($1 million/year) and diversity ($200,000/year).

The six programs that will receive funding under the ball and street hockey umbrella and diversity include: Preds Fitness Challenge, Go Skate!, Preds Rookie Program, grants and scholarships, high school skills development series and a coaching development initiative.

The NHL/NHLPA’s Industry Growth Fund is supported by all 30 member clubs, and was established as a result of the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement to help market and promote hockey in NHL cities. A committee made up of both NHL and NHLPA representatives reviews team applications for funds and makes appropriation decisions for Industry Growth Fund money.

The Predators, who began their IGF grant application process early in 2015, centered their proposal on the growth of youth hockey. In 1998, there were two sheets of ice and approximately 400 USA Hockey registered youth participants. Today, there are six sheets of ice with approximately 1,400 USA Hockey registered youth participants and nearly 9,000 additional grassroots hockey participants. Many programs that support the growth of hockey in Middle Tennessee, which continues to expand at an exponential rate, will be funded in part by the IGF Fund grant.

“The Nashville Predators are grateful to the NHL and NHLPA for the significant level of investment they’ve made through the Industry Growth Fund to help bolster hockey involvement in our city,” Nashville Predators President and COO Sean Henry said. “The opening of Ford Ice Center one year ago laid a strong foundation in broadening hockey’s reach in Nashville to a more expansive population. This new grant gives us the opportunity to build on that foundation by creating new programs and expanding existing ones to reduce or diminish barriers for our sport.”

We are proud of the impact we’ve made since opening Ford Ice Center in creating new programs designed to reduce the barriers for participation in our sport. This new grant, coupled with the excitement by our fans, gives us the opportunity to create new initiatives and expand existing ones to further fuel interest and growth. The excitement and level of engagement by our fans

Utilizing the IGF money marked towards ball and street hockey, the Predators will create a new five to 10-week fitness curriculum with student incentives called The Preds Fitness Challenge to reach 50 elementary schools per year.  Students will receive a welcome video, manuals, collectible bracelet with charms and a wall chart. Upon completion of the program fifth grade students will be invited to an advanced programing session at Ford Ice Center that includes instruction on the Ford Ice Center street rink, open ice skating, Hockey 101 presentation, and on-ice hockey instruction from staff.

The Nashville Predators goal is to put sticks into the hands of 25,000 kids each year. By providing the necessary materials and training to physical education teachers, this program is designed to have a longer lifespan than just one or two years in area schools; after creating the infrastructure, teachers will become a conduit for spreading hockey throughout Nashville. This will create a compounding affect that is intended to triple the number of participants, reaching up to 75,000 in the first three years.

The final portion of the Predators’ IGF Grant money will be headed toward the organization’s diversity programming for the following initiatives:

Go Skate!, is an entry-level ice skating initiative that is designed to reach 300 kids, (900 over three years) ages 10 and under.  Eligible participants can register for Go Skate! during select Nashville Predators home games. Through this program, each participant will receive a free learn to skate eight-week session at the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy (valued at $130), and upon graduation participants will receive their first of pair of skates for free (valued at $60). In total, $178,500 will go towards this program, with $59,500 being earmarked each year for the program.

The Preds Rookie Program is a try hockey for free grant program for Get Out And Learn (G.O.A.L.). Up to 125 graduates yearly (375 total) (ages 12-and-under) will be eligible to apply for a grant to fund necessary hockey equipment, one (1) six-week PREDecessor “Learn to Play” session and one (1) nine-week NPAHA youth house league season (valued at $685). This grant will be distributed with the intent to “grow the game” across various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds while providing new participants with 19 instructional ice touches along with their initial equipment for free. A total investment of $264,375, or $88,125 per year for the next three years, will be made in The Preds Rookie Program.

Fifty need-based grants (valued at $500) will be distributed on an annual basis to assist hockey players ages 18-and-under with their NPAHA youth house league fees.  These need-based grants will lay the basis for youth with diverse backgrounds to continue playing hockey, providing a fun, safe and active outlet as they mature and grow into young adults. $25,000 is being appropriated for the next three years for this initiative, totaling $75,000 for the duration.

High School Hockey Fundamentals is a free entry-level program designed for rising ninth and 10th graders that want to learn how to play hockey in a non-intimidating setting.  This new initiative offers two free programs: The first is a three-day clinic during winter break and then a three-week clinic during summer break.  This program offers kids that would like to play high school hockey, without any prior experience, the opportunity to learn and funnel into the local high school programs.$66,000 over the next three years has been earmarked for this program, or $22,000 per year.

The coaches/officials grant program will cover 100 interested individuals first year of USA Hockey coaching and/or officiating certification fees.  A total of $12,750, or $4,250 for each of the next three years, has been appropriated for this initiative. The grant program is intended to help educate aspiring coaches and officials and help provide them with the requisite tools and knowledge to create a foundation for success.

In total, it’s projected that over 75,000 new people will receive exposure to the game of hockey because of the IGF.

For more information on current Nashville Predators’ youth hockey and development programming and the most up to date information on new opportunities, visit nashvillepredators.com/youthhockey.