In accord with the National Hockey League’s effort to grow the game of hockey around the world, the Tampa Bay Lightning are doing its part to join in the initiative by implementing a local program within the Tampa Bay community and its surrounding areas that serves as a microcosm for the league’s overall global effort.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have partnered with Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, a group that comprises about 24,000 Girl Scouts throughout Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sumter counties, to implement the initiative, which ties in with the grass roots focus of the World Hockey Summit to take place in August.
Unlike the NHL’s regular season, which spans the first week of October to the beginning of April, the program will provide opportunities for youth and teenage girls year round. Areas of focus for in-season activities include educating girls about various aspects of the game including the rules, players, basic skills and proper nutrition, exercise and training techniques common to many athletes in the sport. The program will also encourage the demographic to pursue careers in the professional sports industry, affording them the opportunities to become strong leaders in the community and in business as well.
Even with the league’s top superstars on hiatus during the offseason, members of the Lightning organization will remain busy as they make trips to various camps to continue promoting the message during the summer months. The camps are scheduled to have two visits apiece with about 30-60 girls attending each session. The sessions themselves are designed to be both fun and educational, with the Lightning Fan Experience Truck scheduled to make appearances, while bringing street hockey gear on site to run girls through drills, practices, scrimmages and instruction.
The rewards for both organizations prove to be two-fold. Just as the Girl Scouts will receive first-hand knowledge of the sport and how to properly play the game in an environment that is both fun and safe, the Lightning will be able to promote the game across a non-traditional demographic, while at the same time, proudly display the organization’s commitment to youth hockey and community development.
“Through the programs we’ve partnered on with the Tampa Bay Lightning our Girl Scouts are discovering new career opportunities, connecting with each other and taking action when it comes to their own health,” Director of Camp Scoutcrest Maureen Cacioppo said. “The Lightning are helping to change the girls’ lives and influence their futures.”
In order to spark interest in the game at an appropriate time during the beginning months of the season, the Lightning, in conjunction with USA Hockey, have opened up the ice at the St. Pete Times Forum to provide the Girl Scouts with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to skate on the same surface as the pros do. The team will host 300 girls to learn the fundamental skills of the game from members of the Lightning coaching staff, as well as certified USA Hockey instructors. The day will include an off-ice coaching session along with two to three hours of on-ice instruction. The Lightning will also provide necessary equipment, lunch, a patch for each girl’s scout uniform and a ticket to a future Lightning home game.
Aside from learning the game itself, the girls will also receive an opportunity to learn about the business aspects of the game in the spring when the program comes full circle. The Girl Scouts will receive a behind-the-scenes look at women’s roles in professional sports by speaking to some of the organization’s top professionals, as well as take a tour of the St. Pete Times Forum. Girls ages 5-17 will attend and receive lunch, a commemorative uniform patch and a ticket to that night’s game.