The Preds “Street Pride” program is one of the staples of the team’s Youth and Amateur hockey initiatives. An extension of the NHL’s league wide street hockey program, the Preds “Street Pride” provides an athletic and educational program based around teaching children about the game of hockey.
The Preds take the program to local community centers throughout the Nashville and Middle Tennessee area. Through the Street Pride program, the Predators provide street hockey equipment including sticks, rubber pucks, no-bounce balls, nets, and protective goalie gear as well as start-up street hockey instruction for coaching and administration.
This season the Preds welcomed two new community centers to the Street Pride program, Middle Tennessee Youth Villages and Preston Taylor Boys and Girls Club YMCA of Nashville. On October 19, Martin Erat
, Patric Hornqvist
, Pekka Rinne
, and Steve Sullivan visited the new locations to help them drop the puck on the new partnership.
Erat and Steve showed the kids of Middle Tennessee Youth Villages the basics of the game of hockey while Pekka Rinne
and Patric Hornqvist
showed the kids of the Preston Taylor Boys and Girls Club YMCA of Nashville how to handle the puck.
Dantriel McWilliams, the Director of the Preston Taylor Boys and Girls Club YMCA of Nashville, talked about how important it is to introduce these kids to a game like hockey.
“Hockey in this community it a nontraditional sport, so the more we can educate a kid on different kinds of sports like hockey the more they will be able to enjoy it on a whole other level, broaden their horizons.”
At both locations players brought equipment to be used in the instruction for that day but also to be left with the centers so the kids could continue to learn about and play the game of hockey.
Greg Schott, the Development Manager for Youth Villages for Middle Tennessee, voiced the importance of the donation of equipment to the centers.
“We don’t have it in our budget at all to afford any kind of equipment like this. Hockey sticks, pucks, goals and gloves, we could never afford anything like this. If the kids have the equipment they will participate; but the problem is we just don’t have the money or the resources to do it. So having this (donation) is huge for our kids.”
A total of about 65 kids participated in the two, hour long training camps; however both directors of the centers felt these kids were able to take something more than hockey skills and the desire to learn away from the experience.
“Having the interaction with a positive role model is like having interactions with mentoring. It may just be a short time frame but the impact they have is huge,” Schott stated. “These kids look up to adults who have been successful in life; who have a good work ethic. They know what it takes to become a professional. And for a lot of these kids it’s their dream to become a professional athlete. But to actually have interaction with the players and know that they are human being and someone who lives the right way is the most important part.”For more on the Preds Street Pride program, click here. Centers interested in becoming an official Preds Street Pride site are encouraged to complete and submit the Program Center Recruitment Package.