City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Youth Hockey Succeeds On And Off The Ice

St. Louis Blues Hockey Programs Embrace Youths Of Various Ages And Backgrounds

Scoring big in giving kids new chances:  Since St. Louis Blues representatives partnered with the NHL and NHLPA during 2016-2017 to create "Little Blues," a low-cost, learn-to-play program to allow kids to experience hockey for the first time, more area children are discovering love of the sport--1,200 youths benefited from this program during this year alone. 

The seven-week introduction-to-hockey program is intended for children ages 4-9 who haven't yet participated in organized youth hockey. 

Randy Girsch, St. Louis Blues vice president, community development and event management, says the Little Blues program cost is $250 per child. "That includes six on-ice practices with Blues alumni, a Little Blues graduation ceremony and a complete set of hockey equipment," he adds. 

Most sessions take place year-round at the Centene Community Ice Center, the Blue's official practice facility. Randy says participants attend an equipment fitting event three weeks prior to the first ice session, to ensure comfort and safety.

The program is financially made possible by program sponsor, First Community Credit Union. 

The St. Louis Blues also offer the "Street Blues" initiative, a free ball hockey program aimed to get elementary and middle school-aged children interested in hockey. Recipient grade schools receive a curriculum and complete set of equipment for a full PE class or after-school activity. Randy says 100,000-plus children to date have participated. 

Additionally, the "North City Blues" program provides a free, after-school program and the opportunity to learn to play ice hockey for students between the ages of 4-10 and enrolled in KIPP Schools and/or Friendly Temple. KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.

Practices are held weekly and are led by Blues alum Jamal Mayers, as community youth hockey advisor. "To give kids the opportunity to come be on the ice is an amazing experience," he assures. 

"We're all super proud of the number of youths going through these creative programs. Investing in youth hockey provides children with helpful lifelong traits, such as leadership, teamwork and responsibility. Kids also make lifelong friends," says Randy, who adds that girls' hockey is the fastest growing portion of the sport. 

“Thanks to First Community becoming a partner on the Blues youth hockey platform, we've been able to grow and offer these programs at reduced or no cost,” he adds.

Join The Blues Charitable Initiative

Blues for Kids, the charitable trust of the St. Louis Blues, has a mission to positively impact programs and services that improve health and wellness of youth in the St. Louis area. With support from Blues players, alumni, volunteers and fans, the trust has contributed more than $9.4 million to the St. Louis community in four areas of giving:  cancer care and awareness; health and wellness; education and youth hockey development.

The trust was created in 1998 to honor former Blues player Doug Wickenheiser, No. 14, who passed away in 1999 after a long battle with cancer.

Randy says recipient 501(c)3 organizations must be based in Missouri and within a 75-mile radius of the Enterprise Center. The Blues for Kids grant program opens once per year, at the conclusion of the season. Multiple grant awardees typically are chosen, with the average grant ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

“These funds allow Blues for Kids the ability to continue providing financial grants to more than 100 local not-for-profit organizations, and the generosity of our fans also allows the opportunity to create meaningful partnerships and support the development of programs that fill a need in the community," adds Randy.