The Coyotes are launching a version of "Growlers," their adult-learn-to-play hockey program, specifically designed to provide a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies. Registration is open now. The first session is August 15 and will run through October 24.
Fittings for gear begin Monday, August 9, at any of the three Behind The Mask Pro Shop locations in Scottsdale, Gilbert and Peoria.
The inaugural program comprises 10 on-ice sessions Sunday nights at 8:10 p.m. at the Coyotes Community Ice Center in Mesa, the official home of the Arizona Kachinas Girls Youth Hockey Association. The Coyotes Hockey Development coaching staff will guide participants through the basics of skating, stick-handling, shooting and game play.
Registration includes a set of brand-new hockey equipment, minus skates, hockey socks and a "Pride Growlers" jersey. Participants also will receive two tickets to a Coyotes game, a custom Coyotes growler, and additional exclusive team opportunities.
The Arizona Legacy Pride Hockey Association (ALPHA), Arizona's first LGBTQIA+ hockey league currently in its inaugural season, will have an information table at the fitting sessions. (ALPHA also has an official website and an official Facebook page.)
"Our biggest challenge right now is recruiting, getting the word out there," ALPHA Founder and CEO/President Matt Spang said. "We're trying to raise interest by holding clinics, and we are doing that once a month, just seeing who can get out there with us. We've had a bunch of people show interest. We're trying to do some marketing and get people together,"
Asked if the Coyotes hockey program dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ community will help ALPHA's growth, Spang said, "Absolutely.
"If (the Coyotes are) going to teach players how to play and provide them that step, that's amazing."
The "Pride Growlers" on-ice sessions will be run by local hockey coach Brad Perry, who has more than 30 years coaching experience at more than 300 rinks, and a Level-5 USA Hockey Coaching certification. Perry has instructed thousands of players across the globe, including 100 who have skated at the NHL, Olympic and NCAA Division-I levels.