The Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, is the official training facility of the Philadelphia Flyers. Now, for the first time, it’s about to become the home rink of two girls’ hockey teams.
None of the four Flyers Skate Zones in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey had ever had a girls’ program before this winter, when the Voorhees location hosted two 10-week learn-to-play sessions that drew much larger crowds than anticipated.
That response, and consultation with the parents of girls who participated in the program, convinced Flyers Skate Zones Director of Business Development Jeremy Hall that it was time to take an immediate next step.
From that, the Lady Flyers were born with the announcement of the 2015 Lady Flyers Spring Development Program.
The spring program, planned for April through early June, will feature 8-10 practices and 2-4 games for two Lady Flyers teams. Hall said the games will be arranged against other New Jersey girls’ teams or, if needed, against slightly younger youth teams in the limited travel program.
“It’s been a great process up through the last few months to see how quickly this has taken off,” Hall said. “To carry that momentum, we’ve tried to keep them involved in the spring.
“We kicked around a couple of different ideas, and the one that we settled on is to continue to focus on the development part, being that these girls are still new to ice hockey.”
The games that Hall hopes to arrange against other “semi-local girls’ teams” will be the first ever played by most of the participants in the program.
Prior to taking his position as director of business development for all the Flyers Skate Zones, Hall was hockey director in Voorhees. The Voorhees location is the busiest of the four Flyers Skate Zones, and it already had eight girls skating on co-ed teams there, so Hall decided it was the natural location to host the new girls’ program.
“We were trying to get something going for girls’ hockey in our Atlantic District and in southern New Jersey, where they really isn’t any,” Hall said. “It’s an untapped territory.”
Hall set a goal of getting 10 new girls on the ice for the first 10-week session.
“Twenty-eight girls registered, and we had the consistency of about 25 on the ice almost every week,” Hall said.
Flyers Skate Zone repeated the program. It followed the same philosophy as the facility’s six-week learn-to-play program that has always been offered to boys, but with a twist: the girls’ program was free. Interest was so high that Flyers Skate Zone ended up having to cap participation at 63.
“When we opened it up and really started to market it, get it out there and have it be able to be free, it really pushed the number up,” Hall said. “After the success of that first 10-week session, to go from 25 to 63 was pretty remarkable. It was actually more than we ever anticipated.”
When the spring plans were discussed, parents had to decide the direction they wanted the program to take. They were nearly unanimous in their support of continuing to focus on practice and skill development through USA Hockey American Development Model guidelines while letting the girls’ program grow.
“It’s all based on skill development,” Hall said. “We spend a lot of time on skating, a lot of time on puck skills. It’s very ADM. We have a lot of stations. We have anywhere from six to upwards of 10 coaches on the ice.”
Hall said the first two Lady Flyers teams will be in the 10U and 12U age groups. Although the introductory sessions had some older and younger girls, the bulk of the participants hit that age range, showing there was enough interest for full teams at that level.
Before long, they will be making their debut together in game situations.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.