My son is enrolled in the power skating class at Mount Lebanon Ice Rink. I haven’t been impressed with other programs that he has participated in at the rink, but this one I can say I am happy with so far. It’s a rather large class, but they split the kids up into 3-4 groups, varying them by age. My son is in the youngest group. There are two coaches assigned to roughly 5-6 kids.
So far, there have been two adult coaches, and some high school seniors helping out. Not enough can be said for the professionalism of the high school kids that coach in this clinic. (I’m pretty sure they are in high school. If they are in college, they have to be freshmen.) They give the kids so much individual attention and make sure that the kids are able to do what they are demonstrating before moving on to a new skill. They’re smiling and laughing and more patient than many adults I have seen.
Most of all, you can tell that they are having fun with the kids and enjoying themselves. I think this is also great for the kids for a number of reasons.
Little kids look up to older kids, especially when they play the same sport. Last month for Baldwin’s senior rec night, they invited the development level kids to the ceremony and banquet. The younger kids went out on the ice for the ceremony in their jerseys to stick tap the seniors. It gave them a preview of what happens when you’re older. We stayed for the game after and it was adorable watching the development players banging in the glass and cheering for the high school team.
Being around the high school and even middle school kids gives the younger kids something to aspire to. They want to feel like big time players, and when those guys give them attention, they feel special. It’s that same awstruck feeling that you even experience as an adult when you meet someone that you respect and look up to. The great thing about kids is that they are just as happy to talk to a high school player as they are an NHL all-star some days. They just want to be seen and heard and feel like they matter.
If you can find a program the uses both adults and high school or college aged players for coaches, I highly recommend enrolling your child. Also, take them to local youth hockey games. Being a part of a bigger crowd will give them a taste of things to come.