|Each participant was provided with a jersey, helmet stickers, and head-to-toe hockey equipment |
The Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby
, Reebok and Dick’s Sporting Goods launched an ambitious endeavor in mid-December with the announcement of the Little Penguins “Learn to Play Hockey” program.
The program was designed to increase youth hockey participation among children ages 4-8 by providing complimentary equipment to participants throughout Western Pennsylvania and teaching them how to play the game.
“Hockey is such a great sport, and the goal of this program is to create opportunities for even more kids in the Pittsburgh area to take up the game," Crosby said. "With the 'Little Penguins' program, they can be fully equipped and learn the game in an organized and fun way.”
The program kicks off on February 1 and approximately 600 children were fitted in Crosby’s signature Reebok SC-87 equipment in January at four Dick’s Sporting Goods locations. All 18 ice rinks participating in the program are completely booked.
The youth participants, who are scheduled to pick up their equipment at some point in January, will be provided with a Little Penguins jersey, Little Penguins helmet stickers, head-to-toe hockey equipment - including a helmet, gloves, pants, pads, stick, skates and a bag from Reebok and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Mike Gaffney took advantage of the program by signing up his three sons, 4-year-old triplets Sammy, Tyler and Jimmy. Gaffney grew up playing hockey in the New England area and knows how heavy a burden it is to fully equip three young children.
“I played my whole life and I understand the cost and time it takes and what my parents put in,” Gaffney said. “As soon as we heard about the program we jumped at it. I think it’s a great thing that Sidney, his family and the Penguins are doing to help families get their kids into hockey.”
The Penguins expected that there would be a positive response to the program but were blown away by the incredible interest that the program has sparked.
“When the Little Penguins program was announced, we knew that we were creating a unique opportunity for kids to try out the game of hockey,” Penguins Vice President of Marketing James Santilli said. “What we didn’t know was what a profound impact the program would have on local families. From the rush of registrations at local rinks to lines of gracious parents watching their wide-eyed kids try on equipment for the first time, the program has created an unbelievable buzz in and around the youth hockey community.”
The biggest winners of the programs are the children who may not have been able to play hockey without the program.
“This is a great opportunity,” Gaffney said. “With three boys the same age to be able to get ice time and equipment and get them started is great. It’s great for hockey in the area.”WPXI feature about Little Penguins Learn to Play Hockey