Diversity on Ice

I mentioned last week that our oldest son Josiah recently started playing ice hockey, but I neglected to mention anything about the program he joined. Which is a shame, because the story behind it is pretty cool.

The Genesee Valley Youth Hockey Club is an instructional program for children ages 6-12. (They’ve been kind enough to allow Josiah to enroll a year early.) It is a not-for-profit organization that provides an opportunity for underprivileged kids to learn to play ice hockey. The program is free for city kids, which includes their equipment which is mostly donated. It is staffed by a number of volunteer coaches who are all USA Hockey certified.

It’s one of only about 20 programs in the United States that are sanctioned by the NHL as part of the NHL Diversity program.  Willie O’Ree – former Boston Bruin and the NHL’s first African-American player – is the ambassador of NHL Diversity. The program has exposed over 40,000 boys and girls to the game of hockey since its inception in 1995.

In addition to what they do on the ice, players are also expected to perform well in school and participate in a number of community service projects to remain enrolled in the program.

We’re really excited to have Josiah participate in this program. Not only does it give him an opportunity to play ice hockey – which we likely could not have afforded otherwise – but we also view it as a worthwhile extension of our family life and ministry here in Rochester!


3 thoughts on “Diversity on Ice

  1. You know. It’s actually kind of surprising that O’Ree integrated hockey in 1958. You really would think that it happened much later than that given how uncommon it is still to see black players at any level.

    And to do it in Boston, which has a reputation as one of the most racist cities in the country. Wow!

  2. that reputation is based primarily on the southie busing riots in the 70’s. ever read all souls? it’s amazing.

    well, that and there being a bunch of racist people there 🙂 but they’re everywhere. i’ve never noticed anything over the top, it certainly hasn’t been close to what i saw and heard in floribama…or back home in central maine (the deep south of the far north).

    trivia sidenote: old town, maine’s louis sockalexis played pro-baseball in 1897, the first native american to do so. go maine 🙂

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