Learn2LoveRoller program a benefit to all IHAAZ players
Through a program designed to introduce young athletes to roller hockey, the AZ Royals are hoping to rebuild their program.
Learn2LoveRoller is key in making it happen. It’s set up to introduce East Valley ice hockey players to roller hockey.
“The two games lend so well to each other,” past Royals coach and now IHAAZ tournament director Nick Boyarsky said. “The most intimidating part is just trying it, which there are not a lot of outlets to do so in, especially in the East Valley.”
The AZ Royals started up five years ago, initially as a team where the players wore Arizona Hockey Union jerseys. By the second year, it assumed the Royals name and grew into three teams.
Since the start, the Royals have seen the majority of their players age out move to the brink of doing so in the next two seasons.
“The hope is to rebuild with younger teams and newly energized and excited coaches and parents to take the program forward,” Boyarsky said.
And that’s where teaching players roller hockey comes into play. With money the AZ Royals received from hosting the league’s state finals, five 75-minute sessions of floor time were purchased at the Barney Family Sports Complex in Queen Creek for the clinics.
The program is a hit already, according to Nick Paris, a former coach with the Prescott Storm. He started the program with Steve Ishu, a coach with the AHU Knights, and Ryan Sell, who has been coaching youth teams in the Ice Den Chandler house program and high school hockey at Corona High.
“We have had only one clinic so far (Sept. 28), and it had a great turnout,” Paris said. “My hopes are to put together a 10U and 12U team for the upcoming IHAAZ season. I’m sure over the next couple of clinics we will have more participants, so there’s a good possibility we can put a couple of teams together.”
Brian McBride was part of the group that started the Royals five years ago. He believes Learn2LoveRoller is a great thing.
“The program is great because it exposes kids to a sport that not only gets them out exercising, but it can also offer a team environment with all the personal growth experiences that come with it,” McBride said.
McBride is hopeful that at least two dozen players will participate in each session. What he knows for sure is players will come away from it knowing a great deal about the game.
“As an exposure clinic, I hope the kids learn about how the game is played in a competitive environment, including the most important skills and the basic tactics of the game,” McBride said. “But most of all, I hope the program is able to convey the excitement of playing the game. Those of us who love the game need to be able to transfer that passion to as many kids as possible.”
Paris said it’s important to note that just getting players involved in the game in a clinic setting is beneficial to say the least.
“There is always a huge benefit to kids when they tie up the skates (inline or ice) and have a stick in their hands,” Paris said. “The program gives kids who are new to the sport an opportunity to learn and love hockey at no cost to the parents.”
Learn2LoveRoller clinics center around learning the fundamentals of the game, such as skating and stopping the puck, as well as helping players get used to the difference in rules, pace of play and strategy. The ASU roller hockey team is helping out as well with the clinics.
“We ultimately hope the kids learn roller hockey is just as fun as ice hockey,” Paris said. “I know the kids are going to learn new skills and improve the skills they have. We ultimately hope to put some IHAAZ teams together, but most importantly, we want kids to learn and have fun.”
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/Learn2LoveRoller.
— Brian Lester
(Oct. 23, 2018)