A $6 million initiative to expand the game of hockey regionally in Tampa Bay is beginning to play out in local schools.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association are collaborating on a five-year program that aims to develop hockey players and provide life skills lessons to area youth.
As part of that initiative, schools throughout the region are beginning to have street hockey clinics to teach children about the game.
Pasco County plans to offer the program to all of the district’s fourth- and fifth-graders, said Amy Lipovetsky, program coordinator for kindergarten through 12th grade physical education.
The school district was approached by Tampa Bay Lightning and was glad to participate, she said.
“It fits nicely with our standards in the physical education program,” Lipovetsky said.
There is a standard that calls for being able to strike with an implement, which you can do with a hockey stick.
“I know the teachers are excited, and the kids like something different,” said Lipovetsky, who also oversees Pasco’s athletic programs.
The Lightning plans to provide the street hockey clinics at 500 schools throughout the region.
“This semester they had openings for maybe 10 of our schools. And, we’re going to open up next semester for any remaining spots that they have,” Lipovetsky said.
Additional schools will participate as openings become available, she said.
When the clinics are held at a school, the Lightning sends in about five staff members to teach the game to the school’s fourth- and fifth-graders.
They come in for a day, and they work with all of our fourth- and fifth-graders. Generally, that takes five to six sessions.
“We want it to be effective. We don’t want any more than 60 kids out at one time, so that they can get the most out of the event,” Lipovetsky said.
Some former Lightning players are involved, and the school district’s physical education teachers are involved, too, she said.
“The cool thing is that each of these kids gets to walk away with a hockey stick and a voucher (for a game).”
The program is going an additional step at Sanders Memorial Elementary STEAM Magnet School, the district’s only magnet school.
Sanders students will learn about the concepts of geometric constructions, energy and force — through a computer game on the sport of hockey.
Schools that have participated in the street hockey clinics so far include Chester Taylor and San Antonio elementary schools.
Besides Sanders, other area Pasco schools scheduled to have clinics this semester are Seven Oaks Elementary in Wesley Chapel and Denham Oaks in Lutz.
The street hockey clinics also take place in other Tampa Bay area schools, including schools in Hillsborough County.
Published November 18, 2015