New England Ball Hockey and BAUER recently donated ball hockey equipment, training aids, and BAUER banners to Short Stix Youth Hockey League in Lafayette Hill, PA. After talking to Julie Plotkin, who runs the league, NEBH was happy to help the league and grow their youth program. Anthony Cornacchia had this to say of the program.
“JULIE IS WORKING HARD TO GROW THE GAME IN HER OWN BACKYARD. HER LEADERSHIP IS OPENING NEW DOORS FOR A LARGE NUMBER OF YOUTH PARTICIPANTS, MANY OF WHOM WOULD NOT HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY OUR SPORT WITHOUT HER INVOLVEMENT. ANYTIME SOMEONE TACKLES THE DIFFICULT PROCESS OF BEGINNING AND GROWING A LEAGUE IN A NEW AREA WE ARE HAPPY TO ASSIST THEM IN WHATEVER WAY POSSIBLE. OUR HOPE IS THAT THIS IS THE START OF A REAL GROWTH SPURT FOR JULIE’S ORGANIZATION, ESPECIALLY AT THE YOUTH LEVEL. WE ARE PROUD TO HAVE PARTNERED UP WITH HER AND LOOK FORWARD TO MONITORING AND ASSISTING HER IN THE PROGRESS OF HER PROGRAM.”
New England Ball Hockey usually spends a lot of time telling other people stories of how they are “Growing the Game” but in this case we thought it would be beneficial to let Julie tell you her story of why she loves street hockey and why she started her program.
As a kid, I always was the tomboy. Playing pickup games with all the guys and participating in school sports. I was first introduced to street hockey when the older kids would play in our cul-de-sac growing up in Lafayette Hill. In the summer I would spend my time at Pine Forest Camp and they had just built a brand new hockey rink and I would play for many summers there. As an adult, I still loved the game, but didn’t think there was still an interest for me to play anywhere, even just a pick up game.
When my son started bugging me to play ice hockey, as a single mother I knew it wouldn’t be possible. The cost for registration, plus the cost of equipment partnered with the time and commitment, it was too much for me to handle. So, I thought the best option would be for him to play street hockey. He plays at camp, also Pine Forest Camp, every summer and loves to play then, so why not while he is home? I looked around for youth leagues in the area, but there was nothing local. I then took it upon myself to consider starting my own league. I am now the proud owner/founder of Short Stix youth street hockey.
When I created the idea in my head to start a youth street hockey league, I had no idea where to start. I had volunteered for a youth basketball league for years and I knew how I wanted it to be run , but would it have been successful? I started with what I did know, which was my social marketing experience and my love and passion for the idea and things just started falling into place. The number of emails I was receiving from parents, who felt the same way I did about street hockey and something new for their kids was overwhelming. I had to think of a logo, rules, registration costs, a location, jerseys, and sooo much more. What had I gotten myself into? Come September 2015 at Colwell Park in Conshohocken, I had 4 teams of kids playing in their first ever Short Stix youth street hockey game!
Within the first season, seeing those kids improve on their game and skills, hearing their excitement and teamwork , and seeing the smiles on their faces was an incredible feeling and honor. These kids were officially hooked! They loved coming back every week to play in another game against another team.
Street hockey isn’t considered a “major” sport around here, it doesn’t get you into college and most people don’t know that you can play professionally, but these kids are learning that there is so much more to the sport. It’s the skills they learn, the friends they make, and the thought of a sport that they can continue to play for many years to come and that it doesn’t matter how old you are, what size you are, but EVERYONE plays Street Hockey.
When I first started the youth league, I was contacted by a local guy who asked me about starting an adult league. Without any hesitation, I started the adult league too. I have players of all ages, sizes and all walks of life. Some that play professionally and other who just love to play the game. The youth players see this and they look up to these guys and gals.
My goal is to continue this youth league for many years and spread the word that Street Hockey is making its comeback. It is clear that from my own personal experience and love for the game, that this is true and I am so glad to be a part of this new era and growth in the sport.
With the help of NEBH and Bauer, its been much more than the equipment they are donating to my program. It’s the faith and support towards not only myself, but my league. This means so much more to me than anything. Since I am the sole proprietor of this league, I didn’t want this league to “make me money”. I started this league for my son, Stephen, who loves the game and just wanted to play and for all the other kids out there that just want to learn and play. I am a non-profit organization and any donations or sponsorship’s that come my way doesn’t help me, it helps my program, which in the end helps the youth and that means the world to me. I wanted to make sure that I bought the best equipment out there for these kids, for them to learn on, build their skills with, and love the game, but the cost as most of us know is a pretty penny. NEBH is donating balls for the kids to practice with in warm ups and build on their ball and stick handling skills to better their game. They are donating nets for the kids to have something to shoot on during practice and games, and they are donating shooter tutors, which will help the kids build their shooting skills to better improve their scoring game and in all their love for the game.
Lastly, I just want to thank NEBH and Bauer for their support. Although I know I could continue to grow my program, I couldn’t do it without their help and donations. Short Stix is taking it to the streets and spreading the love of Street Hockey to EVERYONE that wants to learn and open their mind to something new, but a very exciting, competitive, and fun sport that kids and adults can play for a lifetime. Thank you!