NY Rangers program offers free hockey instruction in city parks

The Parks Department and The New York Rangers are bringing a new, indoor street hockey program to three recreation centers in the borough until the end of January.

The citywide program called the New York Rangers and New York City Parks Youth Street Hockey Program, is sponsored by the New York Rangers professional hockey team and Coca-Cola. The program has been running out of St. Mary’s Recreation Center, located at East 145th Street and St. Ann’s Avenue, on Saturdays between 3 and 4:30 p.m.; the St. James Recreation Center at 2530 Jerome Avenue from 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays; and the Hunts Point Recreation Center at 765 Manida Street between Spofford and Lafayette avenues between 3 and 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

The program is open to youth ages 8 to 16. The partnership between the New York Rangers and Parks occurred after the launch of a successful program in partnership with the New York Knicks, who share Madison Square Garden with the Rangers, assistant Parks commissioner Nancy Barthold said.

“The Knicks have a very successful partnership with us, which is why the Rangers came to us,” Barthold said.

Barthold said that the hockey and basketball programs are successful because Parks’ recreation centers have a track record of piquing kids interests in a wide range of sports, free-of-charge.

“My experience is when we offer something for children in our recreation centers, they respond to the instruction, even if they are skeptical at first,” Barthold said. “The goal is to get the kids active, and set them on the path to leading a healthy lifestyle.”

Barthold said that the New York Rangers have developed a curriculum for the program, helped train Parks staff in hockey fundamentals and will be providing nutritional training for kids who attend the program. The program consists of floor hockey which will be taken outside if the weather is warm enough. Parks initially began the program with groups of 25 to 30 children at each of the recreation centers.

The program meets once a week for eight weeks, and youth can walk in and receive instruction without any pre-registration. At the end of the program, there will be a citywide tournament with the best hockey players receiving tickets to a New York Rangers game in February. The tournament should take place in early February.

All instruction is free. The hockey playing equipment, including protective gear, has been donated by the Rangers. For more information, visit one of the Parks Department Recreation Centers where the program is offered.

The St. James Recreation Center can be reached at (718) 367-3657, Hunts Point Recreation center at (718) 860-5544, and the St. Mary’s Recreation Center at (718) 402-5155. Please call in advance to check times.

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